Memories of Ice
by Emily Grabovac
I used to stand, my cold toes gripping the wooden balcony, First Place WinnerThird Place Winner
The air a crisp whistle through my perpetually runny nose,
My mother’s arms wrapped around me, surrounding me
In a blanket of fluffy red sleeves, fighting off the cold
With the determination of love. We would watch in harmonious silence
As the clear orange sun cut into the horizon, and the sky
Would flow from navy blue to green to yellow to firelight orange
In the smooth clarity of colour
That only comes with winter.
These days, I sit alone, lulled by the gentle motion of the bus,
One more individual among individuals
Locked into their singular worlds. My coat
Sits heavily on my shoulders, the refreshing winter air
Remains a mere idea behind plastic windows.
Through the trees that speed by in a continuous blur,
I catch snatches of that same winter sunset, beautiful and brilliant,
Warped by the curve of plastic.
I used to wander along the schoolyard, bright-eyed, searching
For the sections of earth that heaved and crackled like those
Ginger cookies we would bake each Christmas.
In places where ice swelled and broke the ground,
I found hours of entertainment,
Fascinated by the way the earth
Would fracture in my squeezing fingers, collapse
Beneath my stomping feet,
Reveal an upturned icy city
Before my peering eyes.
I could identify those patches even if they were hidden
By blankets of frost-wilted grass.
As I walk home from the bus stop, I still see those patches,
The memory of ice a cold whisper on my hands,
Sowing hesitation in my step as I smile
Images of a younger me dancing before my eyes.
The brilliant joy that filled me is a quieter song now,
A lingering echo of simpler times;
As my feet, ever dutiful,
Carry me to the work waiting inside.
The sleepy softness of childhood mornings
Of quiet drives through quiet neighbourhoods,
Warmth and safety and caring goodbyes
That drift through winter-sharpened air,
Borne on twisting swirls of white — they call to me now
As I wait for the bus, my breath pluming out in front of me,
Clouds haunted by remembrance, mixing with my intake.
The morning air is tainted with the pungency
Of cars roaring past in incessant streams,
No one speaks to me.
I am alone.
Twilight-born snow flecks the windows of my room,
Glassy panes concealed by opaque curtains, shutting out
The darkness and wonder of the frozen dusk. The sun
Has dropped from the sky, a chill quietness fills the air; I close
My laptop, rise from my desk and walk to the door,
And step onto the balcony, white-dusted under the snow-splotched sky.
Each ice crystal that falls reflects a remnant
Of the sun’s fading afterglow, granting enough light
To see the flakes amidst the heavy greyness.
The door opens, closes,
And the cold seeping into me recedes fractionally
As my mother’s hand slips into my own.
We watch the sky until the last vestiges of the sun’s light
Have disappeared, two deepening shadows
Together in the encroaching darkness.
About the Author
I am a grade 12 student in Vancouver, BC, with proclivity for science. One of my passions has always been finding unique ways of expressing myself through writing. My other interests include mathematics, origami, and hiking in the mountains with my family.