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  • The human heart can go to the lengths of God. Dark and cold we may be, but this
    Is no winter now. The frozen misery of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
    The thunder is the thunder of the floes, the thaw, the flood, the upstart spring.
    Christopher Fry, in Sleep of Prisoners

    The image is of a pond, deep in the woods, black water,
    a few fading autumn leaves, floating like feathers, rust red, yellow.
    You are deep underwater now, looking up, and you watch the leaves
    dance in the wind, like birds overhead, until a veil of silver ice
    forms on the surface of the black water, and you know
    that you must stay here alone, locked in until the spring thaw.

    Freedom will come in the spring. You know this. But it is winter now.
    You know that there is no choice but to stay, held fast
    in the surrounding icy black water. You used to believe in choice,
    until all choices were taken away, until it became clear
    that the new curriculum was one of freezing darkness, long nights,
    and a sky of solid ice overhead, shutting off any escape.

    You become a primitive creature in this forced hibernation,
    here under the ice for who knows how long. And yet, there is
    a strange kind of peace now, that comes with your soul's dark winter.
    It is the stillness of hibernation, and you notice now that you
    hardly breathe at all, and that you are no longer afraid.
    Every so often, you exhale, just a little bit, to make sure

    you are still alive, and you imagine the fine silver bubbles,
    slowly making their way up through the black water,
    a small, but reassuring sign of life, a promise of sorts,
    that this is just a rite of passage, and that you will survive.

    Somehow. You know. There will be spring, and the thaw.
    These centuries of ice will melt, and you will be free, at last.

    (Photograph by AJN taken in the Chamonix Winter Sports Center, in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life)
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