Mudlark No. 44 (2011)


No one will be able to determine
whether the Atlantic has frozen
from the bottom up,
the top down,
or the center outward,
the way a cup of water
comes to boil in a microwave.

But there it will be,
their own familiar ocean 
now an enormous chunk of ice
with stingrays, barracuda, 
and tiny phosphorescent shrimp
studded inaccessibly throughout 
like bits of fruit 
suspended in jello.

While the adults count down
to humankind’s extinction,
the children will hurl their snowsuited bodies
onto the jagged, unmoving waves,

clambering up them with bloody mittens,
then sliding down into the troughs
with nearly enough momentum
to propel them all the way over the peaks.

Certainly the parents will forbid them—
Why, it’s like playing on broken glass!—
but they’ll be mutinous,
arriving home always long after dark,
torn and radiant.

After a while, the parents will give up
on punishments.
When even the most biddable kindergartner
runs shrieking onto that ferocious, glittering field,
what will be left for the grownups 
but to mend and pad the little leggings
as they beg the children 
to wear helmets,
an entreaty that 
they will, of course,

Claire Bateman | Mudlark No. 44 (2011)
Contents | Birch Amidst Night Pines