"Ring Around the Blue Atlas Cedar"
by Jane Marshall
August slipped in through the window
and slept heavy in my bed.
The sheets stuck to me like damp tape.
The table fan hummed a lullaby.
I turned my pillow over, propped it up,
and fell asleep reading Jack London.
Three children died beside the frozen lake today:
Charlie, Mick and me.
It was after Charlie caught a fish through the hole in the ice.
By the time Mick arrived the fish had lost its flops and was frozen.
So was Charlie.
Mick put the fish in his pocket, pulled Charlie by the collar
across the lake like a sled, propped him up against a tree
and sat down beside him.
Little puffs of smoke like cartoon character balloons
floated out of Mick's mouth with each sigh.
Finally his eyes closed and the puffs stopped.
I walked over to the tree, put the fish in my pocket,
knelt in the snow and kissed them both on the cheek.
Then I sat down beside them and didn't get up.