Ski Lesson

The slopes are thin white streaks, lit
by strings of dim amber lights until even
hard snow seems soft, like new-churned
butter. I struggle to stay in one place, shivering,
as the instructor points the tips of his skis
downhill in a neat plow. “Follow me,” he cries,
and one by one, we push off from stillness,
a wounded snake, stilted and cautious.

Traverse, turn, step up, slow, turn, stop.
Traverse, turn, step up, slow, turn, stop.

Sudden as a revelation, someone in a pale coat slips
by me, the sound of his skis like Olympic skaters’
blades rushing past the judges: a sharp,
narrow hiss; an inhalation of breath –
cold slivers of silver. I try a quick turn, edges rising.
“Oh,” my teacher shouts, “she’s dangerous!”
Slowly, we trickle down the mountain.

© Jessica Minier Mabe

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