A small figure out on the ice grows
small against the distance, not quite
skimming yet, slide stepping into
harmless pratfalls—a blade gone
errantly out or in against the inductive
"Not too far!" her mother calls.
"The ice is thick."
Across the lake an auger
drills infinitely into the crust.
Trout swim slowly around in their sleep
like morals in a callous heart.
feels them under his feet and decides to drill
there; no, there.
The sky, darkening, slows
or so it seems in the January light, then halts
A sheet of cold
ascends the ice to form a zone between
her skates and voice.
The surface freezes deeper,
then shifts against the banks, cracking down
this winter's spine from one end to the other.
Chard deNiord is Vermont's poet laureate. "Hull Pond in January" was published in his first book, Asleep in the Fire (University of Alabama Press, 1990). He lives in Westminster West.