poetry and prose about place

the skater

with 4 comments

One winter day in the early 1970’s, I took a walk, alone, down to the shore of one of the chain of lakes extending from Dartmouth to Fall River in Nova Scotia.  Near the edge of the lake, I sat down on a log to watch the snow fall.  As I sat there, I had a memorable experience.  A lone skater, on racing blades, skated into the cove.  He had no idea I was there and skated with the abandon of solitude.  This event remains unique in my experience and will always be one of the loveliest happenings of my life. 






shortest hour

shortest day

hike to the lake

on the rail line


stunted stride

grey rails

grey sky

blue mittens



the cove is a glimpse

between branches

birch and maple support the sky

expectant with snow


I wiggle to warm

a place on a log

to watch

snowflakes like mayflies


bark cracks

twigs snap

mittens, knees and elbows




the cove is an oh!

of unspoilt ice, black

smooth, bound

by ice-skinned cobbles


last summer I turned one

found a salamander, red as berries, crushed

beneath the weight of air

skin panting in dapples of sun


today all colour is trapped

in the droop of high bush cranberries

fat sickles of ice

and the electric blue of mittens


the snow sifts down

I lift my mitt to catch a flake 

clings to the wool, white jigsaw

puzzles with atmospheres between


dark ice dwindles



a cymbal rings on heavy air

not the crack of hardened bark

but the ring of steel, the scratch 

ice shaved by a metal edge


a lone man skates

round the curve of the shore

long-limbed as a spider he strides

on racing blades

stretches his arms


turns one toe and leans, a compass

marks a circle on the empty page

three quick strides and a figure

he touches a hand to ice

to steady the turn


alone, he dances

and I am nothing

a stump, bent vibernum

berries under snow


neither breath nor mittened hands

only eyes, watching

and in a while




fines of snow

ease the heavy sky

the trees lean

the skater gone, the cove unwritten


white on the lake, the shore

the tree bark

the berries

even the mittens, white



© Jane Tims 2000


Written by jane tims

January 9, 2012 at 6:27 am

4 Responses

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  1. What a special memory!


    Barbara Rodgers

    January 10, 2012 at 11:00 am

    • Hi. I was amazed how well he did making figures on those long-bladed racing skates! Jane


      jane tims

      January 12, 2012 at 10:54 am

  2. Wow, I love it! This has to be one of my favourites of yours, Jane! I can see that man skating now~


    Eve Redwater

    January 9, 2012 at 8:15 am

    • Hi Eve. Thanks! It shows how people can make a diiference in a life and never even know!


      jane tims

      January 12, 2012 at 10:51 am

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