Venture onto thin ice,
it creaks, cracks,
severs at the point of contact,
swallows you whole.
That was the warning.
Cold water current is unforgiving,
will sweep you under,
far from the hole you made.
when air is a white wall,
youíre snared by cold and panic,
your chances sink below zero
and your mind goes dead as winter.
No more vitals,
just a blob of matter shifting around,
dropping to the bottom,
then inflating back up again.
Itís the caution you get
when you live in cold country.
Thin ice has to share the threat
with getting into cars with strangers,
or riding a bike in heavy traffic.
No one in the deep south
will ever writhe in panic
as oxygen, one moment a given,
the next is snatched away from them.
Sure, they watch out for snakes.
But they donít step on them intentionally.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Muse, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Hawaii Review and the Dunes Review.