What is there as wonderful as ice?

Of all that flows,
It seems miraculous
That only water
To icy floes.

All other liquids
Grow more dense
When falling temperatures
Effect their change.
Yet, when water hardens,
Light ice forms:
Rather by design,
I think, than miracle.

Ponder the alternative.
Could any life-form, water-borne,
Live beyond one season
If every winter witnessed
A descent of ice
That crushed beneath its weight
All things that teem,
Or swim, or bob in ponds?

But always,
Though the land is gripped
By searing cold,
We may peer
Into the shielded, fluid pond
Where dabs of orange,
Finned with film diaphanous,
Dart and duck
Through swaying fronds
Of swaying weed.

The lid to ward
This watery world
Just thickens
As the cold takes hold,
Turns opaque,
Grows crazed and bruised
Most wonderful of all,
Still floats.

Poems for Artemis