Prairie Poetry   
  Freezing at the Ice Palace in St. Paul, Minnesota

Streams of people crackle like ice,
stamp their feet,
eyelashes stiff as death,
and steamy breath escapes up up
like a hot balloon.

A two hour wait and five dollars
to enter the ninth circle.
Ice ice baby
everywhere blocks of it thirty feet high
thrones of it,
a rink of it.
11 p.m. and the ice light show
code blue like frozen fingers
shimmering purple like slow-running veins.
We walk trance-like toward the flame
only to find fake cold red.

TVs imbedded in ice,
the mayor is the king, speaking
from a screen, high
on the frozen castle wall.
The peasants opt for a photo op.
Minnesota nice snaps the picture.
Only a red dripping nose,
slits for eyes
visible among the wool.

Kids lick pennies
and press them to the ice.
We're all confused cattle,
numb minds faltering
in a corral of ice.
In the wall, a fish
perfectly frozen,
mouth slightly agape in shock
staring straight ahead
locked in an ice block.

It's almost midnight.
So many Cinderellas
leave the castle and run
in heavy winter uggs,
with thighs that sting beneath long underwear,
cheeks that burn rose red.

Run, children run,
for tomorrow it will all return to the river
the fleeting kingdom will be crushed
and flow
toward the waiting warm mouth.

  Paige Riehl
  Copyright © 2005 Paige Riehl
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