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The cows on the ice by Carl Alexandersson

The cows on the ice

on clear winter days we'd ice skate on Sjöatorpssjön

our breaths were condensed precise fast-paced

as we'd circle the patch of ice we were told was safe

safety is a decision others make


on this frozen-over lake decades ago

dad's childhood friend poured hot cocoa into his ice skates

to warm his feet which worked briefly before backfiring

nothing is as cold as heat fading


once, I fell through slipped from the pier

and had to get draped in a tablecloth the colour of snödroppar

in Swedish we have this saying

det är ingen ko på isen there is no cow on the ice

it means no danger everything's fine


once I poured hot cocoa onto the ice

thinking it'd melt but it just stained


dad always told me if I ever go further out on the ice

I'd need to bring ice picks in case I fell in

on Sjöatorpssjön I learned how to listen

for cracks under skates for spring to break for danger


last summer, in the dark dad and I heard our neighbours shout

there were cows in the lake having escaped their farm

for the cooling bliss of a summer night swim

we stood and listened as they brought them ashore

like we'd listen for the ice to crack


I'd like to not stain this ice this lake

this life if I can


in the end the cows on the ice were saved

safety is a decision others make.

Carl Alexandersson (he/him) is a queer spoken word poet based in Glasgow, hailing from Småland, Sweden. He was selected for the BBC Words First programme in 2021, Highly Commended for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2022, and a runner-up for the Grierson Verse Prize 2022. His work has been published in Atrium Poetry, Ink Sweat & Tears, Impossible Archetype, and more. His debut poetry pamphlet 'Förgätmigej // Forget-me-not' was published by Stewed Rhubarb Press in July 2023.

1 commento

08 nov 2023

Extraordinarily atmospheric... Pauses/breaths intrinsic to effects.

Mi piace
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