The Skaters

What a thing to trust your life to, a scenic
veneer of solid safety, slashed with blades.
Give me four cubes in a gin and tonic.
Give me salt for sidewalks and lacquered roads.
In London, 1867, the ice
gave way in Regent’s Park, and hundreds fell
into the faithless lake. In a trice
Victorian coats and heavy skirts swelled
with water; boots and skates pulled them down.
They clawed at branches, each other, the frozen shelf,
mad to regain the land. Forty drowned.
So cold it was, the ice resealed itself
and kept them for days, preserved like florists’ wares
under glass, reaching toward the air.

Copyright © 2019 Juliana Gray. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Winter 2019.