Skipping Stones on a Frozen Lake

Just after dusk, when the fire in the sky
has gone out, all that remains are ashes
and cinder. The world turns to grainy
photograph, black and white. The temperature

is unknowable: footprints in mud could be
frozen in place, could be hanging around
for the next slip and slide fall. Every step
forward is speculation, the gossip of toes.

The lake top: smooth as ice, cold as glass.
I skip a stone that glides like a flying saucer.
It leaves grit behind like a trail of smoke,
slows and stops where it remains until spring. 

By then, I will be hiding from the rain,
knowing the mud outside my door
is thicker than my sole, and much more
patient.  The stone will have already fallen

through thinning ice, cracked
that surface, and sunk into the cold
water like a sugar cube that only melts
long after my thirst has passed. 

- Andrew Rihn