Today's poem is by Kelli Russell Agodon

From The Handbook for Emergency Situations

When we were in love
I read you How to Survive
If You Fall Through the Ice.

You were determined not to
listen. You plugged your ears when I read,
Face the direction from which you came.

You told me love could be confused
with drowning. I said, Use your elbows
to lift yourself onto the edge of the hole.

You never wanted to live
that coldly. You moved close, drank
peppermint tea. I read, Reach out

onto the solid ice as far as possible.
You said our chances were slim,
we lived in a temperate climate.

What if you knew then
that later we'd find reasons to dislike
each other's sentences, how many times

I'd look away when you wanted most
to meet my glance? What if we knew
the instructions—Kick your feet

as though you were swimming and pull yourself up
—could be useful when we were breaking up?
Or later, when we tried to reunite

how we should have listened—
Once on the icy surface, stay flat,
roll away from the hole.

Copyright © 2010 Kelli Russell Agodon All rights reserved
from Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room
White Pine Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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