Christy Prahl, “Reclaimed by the Ice”

Christy Prahl is a philanthropy professional, foraging enthusiast, and occasional insomniac. Her work has appeared in Peatsmoke Journal, The Blue Mountain Review, Ghost City Review, and others. She edited the literary collection A Construction of Cranes (Plastic Flame Press, 2020) and is at work on a chapbook, These Professions, which details her fascination with American labor. She splits her time between Chicago and rural Michigan among many unfinished projects.

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Reclaimed by the Ice

When it snows I think of Nathan,
walking with assurance
over gravel and frost,
consuming whole the polar expanse of Iceland,
its green leas to its white-dusted mountains,
cracked clean, surrounded by sea.

His footing holds as a squall picks up.
A map suddenly erased of its landmarks.
North and south in matching jackets.

He is out of provisions for this walk that was to occupy an afternoon.
Layered in down, but only for daylight and not the frozen box
this place becomes by nightfall.

I think of him casually shaking his compass for answers,
imagining the coffee at the ranger station
and the story told through numbed lips, breathless
with dumb luck.

I think of the sun falling on the horizon
as he surrenders to spending the night here,
laboring to build an ice cave with the last of the air in his lungs,
calculating whether to continue
or use his reserves to stamp an SOS in the snow.

Fighting at first,
then settling into the clarity
of what is forcefully,
happening to him.

I think of him retracing his footsteps to add a new message:
AT PEACE, which the snow will fill within the hour.

His professors planted a tree for him at Harvard.
It’s lost among the other trees,
as Nathan would have preferred it,
but tall enough to stand beneath
for shelter.

One thought on “Christy Prahl, “Reclaimed by the Ice”

  1. The poignancy of this poem is quietly palpable. The poet builds the suspense so subtly that you almost don’t realize what is happening to Nathan until it does. The contrast between the beautiful setting and the arrival of death is an effective technique, as is the calm, steady tone mirroring Nathan’s acceptance of the inevitable.

    I loved this poem so much, I went in search of more work by this poet. Thank you!


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