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Below Zero, With Wind Chill
Mary Ann Honaker


The ever-moving ocean freezes mid-motion:
            ripples dollop in peaks,
                        ridges burst into crests, then stop.

(I’m the sort of woman who takes a long walk
            in weather below zero, crosses a park alone
                        in the dark of the Boston suburbs.  

I'll walk home from a bar
            at 3 a.m. with only my fast little feet
                        to save me.  Women like me deserve what they get.)

The water farther down the wharf had slopped
            against the rocks, then stuck.  Round pimples raised
                        then popped into toothily jagged crowns, caught

(you got me good, and so my womb,
            rocked and lured to lunacy by the tidal moon,
                        hardened into sea-glass, faceless and pristine)

caught outstretched like fingers of praise, water slowed to the motions
            of maple, whose leaping toward the well-loved sun
                        is so torpid our tricked eyes see permanence,

(So I started reaching for Heaven, for that purified form
            when the body drops away like a pod from a seed
                        leaving only the real, the untouched, stone, me)

chilled and sealed under glass, a display.  I could see a single seaweed
            standing still as a tree.  Then the wind blue-hued the rocks
                        in a great confusion, what with the sky on the ground

(and the body woke up as if from a coma, limbs unused and foreign,
            and the sky on the ground.  Heaven in the forest.  Lunatic
                        again and fighting it, calling my heavings and surges evil.)

while a siren hooted from the salted streets of my town, and the geese
            spun as music-box harlequins to face it and mimicked
                        the sound.  The gulls by the lighthouse yellowed in day's end

(How I policed me. How I cuffed my own hands and bound my own feet,
            shuffling about in my orange shame, sitting myself down in my cage.
                        Scratching prayers into the cell wall, which my own nature answered)

and I peered out past them where the water went from white to navy blue,
            as if the night were trapped in it.  The night is trapped in me too, and the stars,
                        so small in its vastness, so weak, and so silent.

Mary Ann Honaker is the author of It Will Happen Like This (YesNo Press, 2015). Her poems have appeared in 2 Bridges, The Dudley Review, Euphony, Juked, Off the Coast,Van Gogh’s Ear, The Lake, and elsewhere. Mary Ann holds a BA in philosophy from West Virginia University, a master of theological studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University.