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Icicle Gardens
by Carol Oyanagi

Late winter drips jagged from garage roofs
in my back alley.
Stomping holes through snow-cone slush,
we swing plastic book bags on our way to second grade.
Over musty pages and glue-covered desks
we whisper
while icicles stretch and lengthen
and after, we seek out tooth-like formations
hoping to grasp them before they
crash against polished hillocks
or shrink and surrender to warming air.
Your hiking boots dipped in wide puddles
turn dark and slip-slide on sheer pathways
to embrace massive tusks.
Wearing my brother’s old rubber boots.
I choose to pluck small, tender drippings
hanging from drainpipe gutters.
Cold seeps in,
but my feet stay dry in plastic bread wrappers.

We carry our trophies to your house—
I don’t have a backyard—
and plant them in the sandbox,
pointed tips straining toward the sky.
They stand still,
silently waiting for spring.

Englefield Arnold’s Ohio Proficiency reading test materials 1999

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