A Little Child Leading

Chasing Eli on the Ice

At last the bench clears and I

strap on the blades, glide stiffly

onto the ice, and try to remember

why I am here.

I labor and find a rhythm -

the slow, patient sway of age.

Frozen colors sift into me

like snow.

My children flash by,

cutting their dizzied revolutions

through my ponderous orbit

until one of them,

(for pity, conceit, or love?)

begs for a chase.

We two start pumping. Pretty soon the wind

splits our faces into grins

and smudges out passersby.

Speed blooms in my mouth,

a gift my son has tossed back, heedless.

I am wise enough to be greedy for more.

His black eyes cut to me:

We are linked,

kindling between us

the bright paper wings

of youth,

we are an arrow of joy

piercing absolute zero.

No sooner has it begun than it is over:

My wisdom is no match for his heat.

I peel off and hit the bench,

humming like a shaft driven home.

He does not look back.

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