The Skater

I watch her most days, during winter.
She skates alone, her face always so serious,
concentrating hard, lest she make a mistake
that will send her sprawling, face down,
onto the cold hard ice below.

Her moves are always so intricate
as she weaves her way around the frozen pond,
her sharp blades carving their way
through perfect pristine ice, the occasional flash
of weak winter sunshine glinting off her blades,

a brief respite from the clouds that shadow her face.
Her turns and jumps astound me, yet,
every now and then she falters
and stumbles, but avoids the tumbles
by quickly correcting her balance.

She always seems to skate around the outside of the pond,
avoiding the lonely treacherous centre.
Perhaps she needs the space around the outside
to maintain her momentum?
Maybe she’s just avoiding the thin ice

at the very heart of the pond, knowing,
that it’s not strong enough to cope
with the weight that she carries around
on her fragile little shoulders?
But today I notice, she is skating

in ever decreasing circles,
faster and faster, closer and closer
to the danger zone. I want to cry out,
to tell her to be careful, to warn her
that the ice is thin and brittle

and will not hold her.
In the end there is no need.
As she comes out of a tight tricky turn
she loses her balance and falls clumsily to the floor.
I watch her as she struggles to her feet, breathless,

blood oozing from a wound on her knee
tears streaming down her face.
Dazed, she looks around her
and seems suddenly to realize
how perilously close she is

to the centre of the frozen pond.
She composes herself and head down
skates slowly back to safe familiar ground.
I’m glad she’s safe for now but I can’t help but wonder
………where she goes to in the summer?

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