How Skates Work
Sixteen. It seemed to skate was sorcery
on glacierblades, on icekiss hissing
strips, I spun and swished like quicksilver,
breathing the rink’s chill fragrance. Salchows! Speed!
The ice a sheet for tracing circles on.
Physics seemed far away.
One day I asked
“Why can’t I skate on glass?” That would be
lump, bump, lumberclump and getting nowhere
fast. No showers of snow on stopping, maybe
a sound like fingernails on chalkboard. But
glass is surely just as smooth? Puzzled,
I asked in school. The science teacher,
Mr.Wills explained. The secret’s in the way
the pressure on the skate-blade melts the ice.
This melt-water, like an oil film, lubricates.
I asked, “You mean, I skate on water?”
I never will forget his answer. “Yes,”
he said, “and no. You skate on grace, control
and strength and heart. ‘On water’ or ‘on ice.’
It makes no matter. Just remember this.
Behind the things you wonder at, lies physics.
Beyond the physics that we learn, lies awe.”
Thirty. And when I read of icecaps melting
I think of skates, and when I skate I think
of Mr.Wills, his skill, his water-films,
the way her never put us down for asking,
which meant he loved us, though we did not know.
Posted over on her site Lucy By Lucy
Listed as #66 over on Magpie Tales 44