Two bulls lock horns
their breath forging a white cloud
that holds them.
Each bull claimed to be the spirit
of something other than itself,
one a river,
the other a human.
A few flies drink from their eyes.
Beyond them the levees,
a half-built weir,
a foreign promise,
a tyranny built stone by stone.
What wedding is this
on the banks above?
The tables scattered with winter’s flowers,
casks of wine, honey-scented cakes.
The guests silent as snow.
The two brides silent.
Ice, who had offered his daughters
to the patterns of water,
waited for the god.
He waited as a human,
blinded by desire.
He couldn’t see
the god had already arrived,
thin and delicate, holding moonlight
to the river’s edge.
The god hoped Ice would recognize him
if he came in the form of ice. The god
had brought a gift, the gift of seeing
how one’s own heart holds light,
how that same light can cut stone,
how the heart’s river overflows.
But Ice couldn’t see the god
let alone comprehend such a gift.
Few are trained to see a god—
the snowflakes, the vaporous breath,
the thin brocade at the river’s edge.
Ice could see struggle
and so that is what he saw.
The white cloud of the bulls’ breath spread
over the river, and from within it
the guests heard a heartbeat
like a chisel against stone.
Fog held the wedding and then lifted.
In the middle of the river
stood a statue of Ice
carved from black stone.
Unaware his daughters were gone
Ice stood looking at himself in wonder.