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Vol. XXVII, no. 1

Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis

When I woke up I heard something that sounded like cracking ice and losing faith. Like Faith under glass: face lavender, lips like evening, red hair icicled into separate coral fingers. Faith frozen. Me frozen in that loss.

That was last winter. I hibernated like the heaviest bear. After everything, the ice, a hole for pulling-fish-from not dropping-women-through, after all that, I slept the sleep of frozen fish in the grocer's case. After all, I was her father—there and not there, a useless thing.

I'd taken her fishing.

She was getting married, confused, needing to think. The ice always brought me calm. Come along, I'd said. Come along.

Fish-eye's a jeweler's term, referring to a shallow stone lacking brilliance. A dull diamond with a young woman caught like a terrible flaw in the belly of its hold. When I dream now I dream her stuck—a bug in amber, an inclusion, something no daughter should ever be.

I used to love the long winters, ice-fishing, fish pulled from the lake, their bodies bloodless slabs of muscle shaped like knives.

My daughter muscular like fish in water colder than anything. Colder than her mother two months later, then three, then gone. Her mother despised me as if I'd been the ice-fangs gripping our girl, our Faith in a brittle lake.

Live where winter lives and snow-snow-snow heaps on your living. Push it back and it persists. Crawl out from beneath, it blankets you, one whisper-lace flake, one doll-house doily after another but insistent, it covers. Memory too, that way, also loss, a gathering, quiet accumulation. A bank so dense it feels belligerent, even to a snow-shovel in the hands of God.

This is no climate for love. Frozen fields. My marriage: an ice sculpture of man & wife, distant, ridiculous wedding-cake toppers—rigid arms—couldn't turn to each other if they wanted to—and I believe they sometimes wanted to. Doomed, because whatever might warm them would break them down. Our girl's wedding plans melted but the things between us held in forever-ice.

Faith inherited my dreams. The dullest things. Sorting laundry, ordering Girl Scout cookies. The day before Faith fell through the ice, she told me, "I dreamed about wristwatches all night—stopped or broken. I dropped one in a glass of water." It was always Tuesday in our dreams.

My wife's dreams: perpetual Mardi Gras on Jupiter. God as a hibachi chef. Dicing stars—Juliet calling out for Romeo to be next. These are my wife's dreams.

But the week before we lost her, I dreamed the calendar an ice-cube tray with just enough compartments. The month was July, Faith's birthday was one cube. The coffin shape wasn't lost on us.

In her pocket we found these things: a ring, drycleaning tickets, our housekey. The tickets haunt me. Faith's empty dresses—wire hangers for shoulders—suspended in the sweet-dust smell of Ewer's Cleaners, turning oblong revolutions all day long, resting with the clothes of strangers every night.