January, Lake Champlain – By Holly Painter

Frozen mounds reared up beside
the only vents in the ice, where water
sighed through between drifting slabs

covered in tiny cracks like a war of spiders.
We sat to loosen our snowshoes and
charging onto the ice, my wife hollered,

Who’s dancing on Lake Champlain?
We’re dancing on Lake Champlain!

17 degrees, the warmest day of the year.
Our son was looked after,
and work could be missed.

Spinning, laughing, we slid further out,
flopping onto our bellies to peer down
at grains of sand, individually visible,

ridged in drifts, and preserved for all of winter
under a solid foot of impossible clearness
shot through with champagne bubbles.

I’d never seen such perfect ice.

I want to bring our son back with us,
to show him the sand and the perfect ice
and the air torpedoes trapped inside.

But at two, everything is magic.
He can’t understand how rare this is
for the rest of us.


Holly Painter is a poet, writer, and editor from southeast Michigan. Her first full-length book of poetry, Excerpts from a Natural History, was published by Titus Books in Auckland, New Zealand in 2015. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have also been published in literary journals and anthologies in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, and Singapore. Holly lives with her wife and son in Vermont, where she teaches writing and literature at the University of Vermont.

You can learn more about Holly at her website http://www.hollypainter.com/

January, Lake Champlain was first published in Issue 15 of Apeiron Review.

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