Before the arrival of spring's equinox
the smallest of the Great Lakes begins its thaw.
The melt begins in the middle,
where snow once undulated
like sand raked in a Zen rock garden,
the ice so thick it bore the weight of snowmobiles.
Now the white turns to dark green-gray,
and only along the shore does ice still cling white.
Then, at once, overnight,
the water has waves once more.
Beside the nearby highway
the face of the granite escarpment,
furrowed like an elder's face,
weeps a steady stream of tears
from foot-long icicles.
In the dim room with curtained glass walls,
monitors dark and quiet, I watched him.
With tiny manicure scissors,
the type used to trim a baby's nails,
he snipped a strand of hair
from the very back of the boy's still head—
a near-perfect blond ringlet
he gently slid into a zip-lock baggie.
Pausing, he placed the lock
in the outer pocket of his duffle bag,
likely stuffed with clean and dirty socks,
and underwear from three bedside days
and endless nights sleeping stiffly
in an overstuffed chair.
He kissed the boy's forehead,
stood, and turned,
nodding to me
and walked out the door.