Minnehaha Falls


At Minnehaha the water falls
slower and slower
until you can see frames slipping by
out of sync
projector freezes in brittle air
and great columns of white and eerie blue
stand in silent slopes
and candy cliffs
dusted with white
trying to remember the roar
that winter sealed beneath sheets
but thought is so slow in subzero.
Feet search for footholds
and hands for handholds
and hearts for heartholds,
fellow winter weatherers offer
     words of advice and encouragement,
     ropes, extension cords,
     hands, smiles, photographs,
and somehow, everyone makes it up
and no one is injured,
not even pink hat girl who requires
a mountain of assurance
before each careful maneuver
that could easily bruise knees
                                 break legs
                                 concuss skulls
          and make a grown woman cry.
I reach my naked hand out
        to an unsure climber below-- hesitating momentarily
        (take my hand)
              (are you sure?)
        she extends her free hand
            as far as it will go
        trusting that I won't drop her
        down the unforgiving icy slope
and we slowly stretch our bodies
        toward each other
             until our hands meet
        separated only by
             a green mitten
and I haul her up
                           onto the ledge
                           in one smooth motion
                           over the warm