In Limbo

by Paul A. Freeman
The Write Idea
Second Place, March 2016
Judged by Lee Slonimsky


i find her rucksack
in the ice fall
half buried protruding from a snowdrift

inside are cleats
and crampons
coils of rope
a photograph
of smiling children
and a proud husband

i spot her below
lost in a deep crevasse
a solo climber
culled by the mountains

cocooned in a light-blue anorak
she’s statue-solid
rimed with frost
wearing a mask of mild surprise

the river of ice will embrace her
absorb her carcass
carry her beyond these time-lapse rapids

she’ll go with the flow
for decades
emerge at the glacier’s snout
as pristine as the day she fell
younger than her time-wrinkled children
more enduring than a long-dead husband


The terrible frozen image of a woman at the core of this poem is transformed by a philosophy of time (inspired by a glacier) to a near state of immortality. The fallen victim is preserved in a way that suggests permanent immunity to aging and death, unlike that experienced by her husband and children. Elegant lines like “culled by the mountains/cocooned in a light-blue anorak” and “the river of ice will embrace her” give the poem a sense of elegant tribute that suggests a very cold immortality bequeathed by ice. --Lee Slonimsky

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