– Anger, on ice


by Jane Kokernak

In this house
I make the ice. I
fill the tray. Full
rows shimmer and
tremble. Across
to freezer, drops tip
out. All day against
heat a compressor
hums and once snaps
at air. Within, molecules
slower and slower align
until crystal.

Sweating, in one arc
you swing into kitchen,
hands into freezer.
Out comes a matrix
rigid with ice. You
twist. With the crack
of a stick cracking,
matter resists — then
splinters. Your face
relaxes. Your chest
rises and falls with
breath. Water snakes
into cubes:

The ice the glass
the water glitter. You
drink. Inside me
solids collide
drift and float.



Author’s note: At one time, I was writing poetry like crazy. It seemed to be the way to capture and compress feeling. (The compression was really important to me, as an activity and effect.) Although I don’t think in poems so much anymore, I do believe that the sound of words and prose is important, and when I revise my work, I read it out loud, or read it deliberately in my head. I want to hear the words do something, and I want it to sound like something you could feel. Meaning alone is not enough. Back to this poem: it’s about anger — in particular, how I experience it. A deep freeze. No outbursts or sudden conflagrations for me, just a gathering into this cold black center. An outburst — “the crack of a stick cracking” —  might be more satisfying and productive, if I could pull it off. Can’t. Eventually, it lets go.

Thanks to Kevin Saff on Flickr for his image “Ice Cubes.”

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