One night in midwinter, we walked upon the frozen lake.
One night, thousands of small lights showed us our path, so we could not get lost.
We slid-slipped-shifted but did not fall
We passed under echoing bridges like swans
crunched over shaved ice, thick-crystaled coldness
over ice roses, frost ferns, inscribing our presence
guided by glimmering candle stars,
over fishes who slept silver-mailed and still,
over long sleeping water grasses
over turtles dreaming in hidden caverns
over deep springs bubbling forth feeding the waters,
even when all appears still,
even in winter.
The moon cast a secret light, hiding and slipping from cloud
and the leaping fires called to the people,
whose gazes softened in the glow of their bright flames, their daylight tempers sweetened by hot cups of chocolate,
remembering their first loves, and the deep-snowed winters of their childhoods,
and dreaming the waters beneath their feet once again set free in spring's flickering light.
Then we walked out to the islands, to places only mallards and geese and hawks go. We stand where we've never stood, amazed under the darkling trees, and look back over our shoulders to shore,
where a the procession of ice walkers pay homage to the night, to winter, to darkness and coldness and to holding it close as a lover.
One night, we were warmed by the fire in ice and the ice in fire, by pillars and pyramids, glittering globes and chalices cupping small soft flames that flickered and went out,
and were lit again by kneeling acolytes who bear ever-burning matches.