You skate in and out of nervous
and I’ve worn the wrong red socks,
the ones with holes wide enough
for pain to pass right through.
Everywhere around us, confident
children race past in mismatched pairs
and at the center of the ice a girl
spins perfect circles, again and again,
as if she’s caught in somebody’s TiVO.
Later, I remember how you clung to me
as I tried to push you too soon away,
remember you falling hard onto a surface
that felt like failure. As if on cue
the zamboni emerged out of its cage —
paraded back and forth across a ring
scratched and scarred with living.
I watched it smooth the past clean
and wished that a metaphor could turn
into something real, if you needed it to.
For a minute it seemed as if it might,
then the ice went on shining nothing but ice
and we stumbled back out onto uncertainty,
skating in a reverse direction this time
without knowing exactly why.