Self Portrait with Cape Cod in Winter

Meghan Sterling

I had never seen them before, or thought it possible,
but there they were—waves of ice cascading onto the beach,
depositing castles onto the dunes. The crack like thunder
each time a wave slapped in—more ice, more craggy lines,
more castles upon castles, heave and storm, nearly breaking
like rows of teeth, but freezing before tumbling to sand,
its massive glass heap an endless helix down the shore.

We never spoke of it, as we never spoke of many things—
our bed turned to ice, our words stopped short in our mouths.
It was too dizzying, the power of the sea, the ice mounding up
in a beautiful threat, a line of towers like the ocean on stilts,
like the row of condos on Miami Beach crumbling into dust,
or my dreams of tidal waves that glide over whole towns
in an unmoving wall of water, Russian dancers with their skirts

down to the floor. Maybe we knew this was the end, this ice shattering
at our feet. This ice breaking apart what was already broken.

Meghan Sterling’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Rattle, Rust & Moth, SWIMM, The Night Heron Barks, Cider Press Review, Inflectionist Review, Sky Island Journal, Menacing Hedge and many others. She is Associate Poetry Editor of the Maine Review, and winner of Sweet Literary's 2021 annual poetry contest. Her collection These Few Seeds is out now from Terrapin Books. Sterling lives in Portland, Maine. Read her work at meghansterling.com.