Ice Pond – Frances Dowling Vaughan



In early morning when the sun

lights up last night’s beads of dew,

all the way to the pond I walk

through a show of spiders’ lacey art

hanging from branches of the spruce.


Once we watched how the crew rebuilt the boardwalk

over the marsh grass and cattails beside the brook,

how they pieced together bright lengths of wood;

summer after summer silvering as our hair.


Each August a fleet of dragonflies

come out to sun

at the west edge of the walk;

        I’ve dreamed of flying off

in a tiny brown airplane

banded with logo in bright royal blue.


A small boy tosses crumbs from a paper bag.

Eiders crisscross the pond

and a checkered pattern

glides slowly over the water.


Like the blackcrowned night heron

I have stood silent,

eyeing the slender poles of white birches

dipped in the water.

It is enough to stand here, even without a catch.


Here’s where the herring gulls 

come up to bathe

and drink fresh water;

how smart they look

at suppertime.


Cedar waxwings ornament the tree

and a holiday spirit courses through me.


The pond can swallow the full moon

and give back tiny stars.


A low fog covers the sleeping pond

and in the morning the sun lifts the cover,

all the little creatures begin to gurgle, bubble up.


I have looked into its depths;

it’s always your face reflected.


Swallows veer from the cold dark

of the abandoned ice house,

mindless of cracked ridgepole,

the slump of siding, its slow settling back to earth.

Frances Downing Vaughan