sugar and ice


On my way home this afternoon, I dropped by Tedts’ Diner to get my parents some red velvet and coffee cupcakes.  As soon as I opened the door, I sensed a palpable excitement in the air.  Students who were still in their uniforms practically filled the entire store.  A bunch of high school girls were excitedly pointing at the cake display while a group of boys on one side were earnestly discussing which cupcake flavors they should get for their girlfriends and what they should write on the card.  “Ahhh, puppy love!” I almost said out loud.

tedtsPhoto by Tedts’ Diner

It’s only the thirteenth but the Valentines Day excitement is already sky high!  I can’t help but wonder how much crazier it’s going to be tomorrow.

I know I’ll be pretty amped up tomorrow too but for now, the focus of my excitement is the Sochi Winter Olympics.  The Philippines’ lone representative, Michael Christian Martinez, will be competing at 11pm tonight!  I have been looking forward to this all week long.  I even posted the schedule of the men’s figure skating events on  the door of the fridge and I will probably set the alarm on my phone just in case I fall asleep later.

Photo by Grigory Dukor/Reuters

So anyway, I came across this poem by Guggenheim Fellowship-winning poet Kwame Dawes who has been “writing verses that capture the spirit of the day’s action.”  This poem was written a few days ago for Martinez and posted on The Wall Street Journal.

The Wounded Dancer
For skater Michael Christian Martinez of the Philippines

We skaters arrive wounded, limping, the aches—
beneath the skin you will see the terrible
brutality of what we must do to our bodies.

Ice, we know, is cold, a sharp pain of brittle
light—but ice is hard, it will not give,
it bites back, before melting sardonically.

I leap, torque and flow, my mind whispers,
flight is lifting the weight of the world,
And there are no white rose petals to land upon.

Here in these humid islands, the mall owner
is kind to build a rink, but he thinks the ice is smooth
as glass, slick, even.  He would not know

the bubbles and fissures of the uneasy ice,
the physics of crystals, and the way the ankles
twist and contort to hold a smooth line—

come closer, turn off the muzak, listen
to the crunch and yelp of the ice breaking
away against the steel’s bite, and hear the pop

of my bones and the wheeze of all tendons
before the leap—hear the deep grunt
of anticipation as I lift, the body already

alert to the blow of my landing—and only
for that small moment, of clothes flapping,
in the miracle of the second turn; only

then, when the dizzying of lights spinning,
colors hurled at me, in the second of lift
and the yank downwards, only then

can you call my body smiling—then comes
the brute ache, of landing, splintering ice,
ankle howling, such painful, painful beauty.


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