Part One – Skating
Scuffed black leather boots
laces wrapped twice round thick ankles
silver blades mirror the sun
explode with light.
Edges carve the freshly flooded ice
lungs hungrily receive the crisp air.
Tendrils of coal-black hair trail behind her
like a flag shredded by the wind.
Brown velour hat lies abandoned in the snowbank
round and round the rink they soar
faces wind-whipped, smiling
mittens locked in a woollen embrace.
Part Two – A shaming
Wedding dress of white
bounds her to him
encircles her waist
like her face.
Her dress stitched together
tearfully by mother.
She longs for simpler days
matching strides against the icy wind.
Across the room
huddled in the seat at the back
a rumpled figure
asleep, mouth open, drooling
hat askew, necktie loosened and stained
reeks of alcohol
She has now shamed him
as he has long shamed her.
Part Three – Knitting
Husband dons his purple vest
decorated with badges and medals
escapes into the night.
Doing good deeds
While she knits together her world
settles into her tattered, sagging chair.
A gnawing pain in one hip
her constant companion.
Mittens, large and small
knit one, purl two
patterned balls of yarn diminished
transformed into glorious hand-warmers
of crimson red, ocean blue and rainforest green.
Part Four – Forgotten
Slowly, she follows the casket
her grey hair neatly trimmed.
Family and friends line the aisle
reach out to comfort her
their hands cold and gray.
Leaving the church-stale air behind
she limps heavily.
Outside, the shadowy carriage awaits
warm hands appear suddenly
help her ease into the leather seat as
she looks up at the forgotten face.
Part Five – Remembering
At home, amid piles of casserole dishes
she angrily grabs her bulky knitting bag.
Knitting needles at rest
jut out at odd angles
ready to skewer anyone who comes too close.
She climbs the stairs to her room
pushes the yarn, needles and half-finished mittens
to the back of her closet.
Pulls out the once sleek skates from her hiding place
runs a finger along the dull blade
remembers her icy promenade.
A pair of snowy footprints
form a path to the frozen lake.
Frigid air curls like smoke from their lips as they
grip insulated coffee mugs aware of an
aroma of vanilla beans.
Silently, they gaze at the grenadine pink sunrise
both frozen in memories.
His wife, lifeless in her bed
immobilized by illness.
Her thoughts of the wind in her hair
the smooth stroke of skate blades
He reaches for her hand
their brightly-coloured mittens together again.
They turn and glide in unison towards the car
his stride adjusts for her limp.
(Dedicated to my grandmother)