Skating in Harlem, Christmas Day
To Mary Jo Salter
Beyond the ice-bound stones and bucking trees, past bewildered Mary, the Meer in snow, two skating rinks and two black crooked paths are a battered pair of reading glasses scratched by the skater's multiplying math. Beset, I play this game of tic-tac-toe. Divide, subtract. Who can tell if love surpasses? Two naughts we've learned make one astonished 0— a hectic night of goats and compasses. Folly tells the truth by what it's not— one X equals a fall I'd not forgo. Are ice and fire the integers we've got? Skating backwards tells another story— the risky star above the freezing town, a way to walk on water and not drown.
Excerpted from The Watercourse by Cynthia Zarin. Copyright © 2002 by Cynthia Zarin. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced without permission in writing from the publisher.