"Tasting the Last of the Ice Age" by Susan McCabe

September 2, 2022 

Tasting the Last of the Ice Age

Susan McCabe

We stuffed our mouths with snow 
& bark on sleds to the border. 
The ice hotel was not forgot. 
Sleds kept their ice caps on 
& skidded between forest folk— 
they waved, they cried, we saw it all.  

We live in the hotel beyond estrangement. 

It floods sinks swerves—
Ultraviolet auroras on postcards slip
from their raining frames.
The diamond chandeliers
hold prismatic sleepers 
between glass sheets. 
When staircases come down
we lose distinctions.
Still thrilled, yes, thrilling as ever— 
the midnight sun stays on & on.

We do not anyway think of leaving.
Cities nearly all torched.   
Pull-apart bodies stagger
into melting ice. One
drinks from a frozen glass 
then drinks the glass too, 
face at frost removes. 
Flakes ache to re-constellate.

This dawn a pair of lovers, 
were trapped in an ice alcove, caving, 
beneath a smeared Patagonia 
cover, and puffer jacket, p.53? 
Stone told—“look under me.” 
They were already dead.                         

Hardly anyone notices a tender 
chilling bliss. The giant cumulous 
are walk-ons for permanence. 
All the slow night they are there.

Copyright © 2022 by Susan McCabe. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 2, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“This poem is part of a larger sequence of poems about climate change. Its dystopic environment addresses our human desires as often at odds with the natural world and cosmos. While it has a whimsical element, it wants to wake readers up to the consequences of ignoring rising global temperatures.”
Susan McCabe

Susan McCabe is a queer poet and the author of Descartes’ Nightmare (The University of Utah Press, 2008), winner of the 2007 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry. A professor of poetry and creative writing, she lives in Santa Monica, California.

Descartes’ Nightmare
(The University of Utah Press, 2008)

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Glacier (after Wallace Stevens)” by Craig Santos Perez
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“Song for the Woolly Mammoth” by Lauren Moseley
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Thanks to Cynthia Hogue, author of In June the Labyrinth (Red Hen Press, 2017), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Read or listen to a Q&A about Hogue’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year
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