Skating In Harlem, Christmas Day

Beyond the ice-bound stones and bucking trees,
past bewildered Mary, the Meer in snow,
two skating rinks and two black crooked paths

are a battered pair of reading glasses
scratched by the skater's multiplying math.
Beset, I play this game of tic-tac-toe.

Divide, subtract. Who can tell if love surpasses?
Two naughts we've learned make one astonished 0--
a hectic night of goats and compasses.

Folly tells the truth by what it's not--
one X equals a fall I'd not forgo.
Are ice and fire the integers we've got?

Skating backwards tells another story--
the risky star above the freezing town,
a way to walk on water and not drown.

by Cynthia Zarin

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