You wish this was your long shadow.
It was once, up where the earth curves hard from light, you with a suitcase
on a blinding sea, seeing your grayed twin stretch, your never still self needing travel.

Let no one say it wasn't sad.  You stood on ice and knew it
moved beneath like warm-blooded creatures
in sleep.  Held tight, the dog will run somewhere behind its eyes.

We could have let the cold take us.
But that was the year we beat winter back, warmed by the effort.  Too bad
winter couldn't stay, I say, like a nursery rhyme.  We've heard

cooled hearts grow strong again.
Yours, red wax, slipped soft from its nail.
I shaped it back, and the two of us lay waiting in a cabin's draft.

Ice always wins; do we believe fire
can be fought?  It takes my thoughts and runs
a groomed track of frozen water.  Or they are led by a sad I sit and soak in

like the sun.  If we close our eyes, our mouths can tell the difference better
than truths.  Ice is fast and unashamed, and fire stretches like an echo,
but do you hear it break softly in two like a word, like embers?

Jill Osier
JILL OSIER, having earned an MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and taught at
Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, now lives in northeast Iowa. Her poems have most recently appeared in The Cream City Review and Black Warrior Review; others are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner and The Iowa Review.