Ode to the Fat Child Who Went First onto the Thin Ice

 
to test it for three of us about a dozen feet
behind. He was a big boy
and could have broken
each of us, had he chosen to.
Instead, he was a good big boy,
whose mother loved him and called him Pumpkin.
It was on a pond, once a local source
for the frozen water trade, and, at this part,
Ice House Beach, the thickest, the last to thin,
everyone said. Early spring of a hard winter.
On the opposite shore, there were some woods
we wanted to enter, a shortcut home.
He disdained a rope we’d brought.
He went forward about ten feet.
We went back about ten feet.
At midpond he said: Come on,
one at a time, it’s plenty

We’d retreated up the beach ten more feet by now.
He crossed to the other side
and called again, but while his back was turned,
we took the longer, the meek way, home.

 

 

 

Thomas Lux is the author of 13 books of poems and one book of nonfiction. He is the Bourne Professor of Poetry and director of the McEver Visiting Writers Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His honors include the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, three NEA fellowships, and the Robert Creeley Award. He lives in Atlanta.

Photo of woods in winter courtesy Pixabay.

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