Snow, Ice

Matthew Sweeney

In spite of the snow, he powered his bike
down the freezing road, avoiding the dogs
that gambolled there, shitting and pissing,
barking and growling. He cursed them all,
their scarfed and gloved owners, too,
also the cars that passed him by too close,
the monster buses that wanted to crush him,
the fat cold moon in the smoggy sky above.

His mouth recalled the taste of brandy-balls,
sucked hard, rolled around, then splintered.
He saw his own dog, a black cocker, running
after his red child’s bike; and the snow vulture
he created at the gate, then brought inside
to scare his granny who was trying to die
all those years ago, before he crossed the sea,
then another sea, then criss-crossed over

and back, to where he was cycling now
trying to get to a big frozen lake, where
a man dressed in black was skating round
and round and round, gouging a circle
through which he wanted to fall, to freeze
in the water and never come back out, no,
never, and so he pedalled harder, hoping
the ice was thick enough to wait for him.