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.
Cynthia Zarin is the author of Orbit (Knopf, 2017) and The Ada Poems (Knopf, 2010). She teaches at Yale University and lives in New York City.
Date Published: 2002-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/skating-harlem-christmas-day