This time last year, you wore thin blades
screwed to the sole of white leather boots
and wobbled close to snow-clad skirts
of a frozen lake.
Your tongue still spilled English words
The lake remained solid for weeks
long after you coaxed your borrowed skates
into swooping curves and spirals
to explore further from shore
and your tongue learned new shapes
Today I hear you talking on the phone.
Danish flows like summer streams.
Er den vejr godt til skojte?
Is the weather good for skating?
The answer is yes. I can tell, because you say
we don’t get the right sort of cold here.
I hear that whistle in your chest
from the wrong sort of cold.
Last year, it was silent.
I miss that, and the way every day
you tumbled in the door,
tongue tripping out new words:
Mum, I can say ‘Jeg kan skojte’,
and, Mum, I know ‘koldt and sne’.
I miss sleeping with my curtains open,
icicles teething outside my window.
I suggest we drive to the ice rink in the city
though I know it’s not the same.
At the rink, you can’t see marsh-grass
trapped like flies in amber,
can’t gaze through the icewindow
at fish still swimming below.
You can’t roll on your back when you fall
and trace aeroplane journeys
in white stripes across icebergblue skies.
You don’t feel it move beneath your feet,
don’t hear the icesongs chime.
It was hot summer when we left.
Back home, we skated on thin ice,
trying to force our feet into old shoes
too small to fit.
published in a fine line, spring 2020