“At the Ice Rink” by Alison Luterman . . . Prompt #349


Today’s writing prompt is a poem by Alison Luterman. When the prompt is a poem, you can write on the theme or the mood of the poem. Or use a stanza, a line, or a word to inspire your writing. Just Write!

At the Ice Rink

I came here to fail
and to fall
but not so well
as that man careening over the ice
sliding into the wall
as if into second base
shambling up, grinning, like a great bear,
and taking off again,

saying, over his shoulder,
“You’ve got it backwards.
Learn to fall first,
then  skate.”

I end up clinging
barnacle-like to the sides,
inching around the perimeter like a caterpillar.
Wall-hugger. Nothing has changed since I was eight
and my parents paid for skating lessons
in hopes I would become more balanced.

Now as then I am wobbling, terrified,
feet frozen like blocks of wood at the ankles.
Not loose-limbed and easy like Hilary
who rides the ice like a North wind scouring the plains,
nor deft and graceful like Ruth
picking up her feet and kick-gliding
in time to the ’70’s pop muzak.

But what can we do
when fear throws its rustiest pickaxe
dead ahead in our path?

Mince. Inch. Stumble. Pray
for the grace to fall
and not be rescued, pray for the scramble-up

for the liberating laughter that knowsit is not in our control.
There is the center, gleaming like a fish-eye.
Little girls spin on it, twirling their bright skirts.
It shines under its white scars like a destiny.

—Alison Luterman

Alison Luterman:

As a child, I used to creep onto the stairs when my parents had guests over and eavesdrop on the grown-ups. A creak of the stairs would invariably give away my position and I’d be chased back to bed, only to reappear at the next opportunity, hiding and listening. I wanted to be where the interesting conversations were happening. I still want that. Only now the conversations happen all over the country, all over the world, with friends, friends of friends, and complete strangers. Our stories rub up against each other and expand and change in ways I could never have imagined when I was young, and they now include rocks, weeds, fruit trees, cats, stars, and myths from all over the world, as well as all kinds of people.

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