The ice had been building up for years,

the kind of thing you want to ignore

until everything begins to crack

from the pressure and weight of it all.

 

Then you’re overwhelmed at the thought of                            

all that picking, hacking away at it.  You

keep looking away until one day you realize

that no one else is going to do anything about it.

 

So I emptied the freezer, put everything on the table.

I thought a little warmth might help melt away

what time and coldness had buried only to realize

this would be neither a brief nor simple undertaking.

 

I’d have to be fast, considering how things can spoil

in time. So in the gentlest, most careful, but deliberate

manner, I began to tap gently at the ice. Initially, nothing

budged; it seemed wiser to leave it alone for a while.

 

But that would mean having to endure the sound

of that constant drip, like my falling tears, dreading

what I knew lay beneath the coldness—a real mess. 

I was trying to avoid a complete breakdown.

 

I left for a while then returned to remove the remaining ice,

trying to avoid further damage. Great chunks fell with

ease now, exposing a large hole on the left side. As I gently

cleaned the empty space, I asked myself, Why did I wait so long?

                                                                                                                                                   – Mary E. Kocher