Underneath

This morning the earth under our feet was like a frozen other-world, our false spring knocked back for we-could-not-know how long. My child weighed one foot against the other over the ice, watching the water and air below the cloudy glass sway. Her ice table threatened to break, the pressured squeak and moan warning her first one way, then the other. The northeast winter ice and chill and frost is my private craving. It sinks past my skin into my bones and I am alive and closer to death all at once, like death is a single step away, that one crack misjudged. The child and I part and she goes on, and I watch her go away from me. I force myself to imagine the unthinkable. I see myself claiming her bones. “Those are mine,” I would say. “They belong to me.” I would hold them against my own frame still covered with flesh, press their coldness into myself. People would talk, but only because it is 2015 and I am where I am and we have all agreed to play-act as if we are not primitive. That we are not animals with ancient desires. That the cold does not force an intersection of life and death until we no longer feel the difference. These small bones, formed inside. All mothers have known it forever, even if we keep silent. We will never crack and separate.

Elizabeth Gaucher is a degree candidate for the MFA from West Virginia Wesleyan College. She lives with her family in Middlebury, Vermont. www.elizabethgaucher.com.