I love you, I say, after the quarrel but before
falling asleep. And within that small victory
I can feel my chest muscles tightening,
as my breath rises before me like a cartoon cloud
awaiting the articulation of the storm.
There is, my wife reminds me, a single degree
where even ice, water and vapor can coexist;
but I’m already shivering, doubting
all in this world I have taken on faith;
snow’s comforting white hexagonal symmetry,
for example, which the silver sliver of moonlight
is just now illuminating. Here at the Ice Hotel,
outside Quebec City, let us praise the grand
pavilion with its chandeliers carved from ice,
and its exquisite ice chairs, and its walls glazed
with prehistoric frost paintings. Let us celebrate
even our eight hours in traffic, cold shoulder
to shoulder, our emergency medical cooler bodies
transporting their arctic hearts. Here at the Ice Hotel
let us honor the two young honeymooners,
clinking cubes in crystalline glasses,
who offered to share this last room—
their reservation, our money— with its fleece sheets
and deer pelts piled high on solid blocks of ice.
How many words have the Inuit for love?
the bride asks, smiling over at us, her skin luminescent
like the moon, his bronzed as raw honey. My wife
draws me near. I can hear her heart beating.
All around us the atmosphere is also heating up
and even the polar caps are, as I feign sleep, thawing.
Richard Michelson‘s latest collection is More Money Than God. He owns R. Michelson Galleries and is the current Poet Laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts.