part doctor-part cop
rang the bell on his bicycle wagon,
down from our fire escapes
we came, we came like gnats
for sundaes, toasted almond, coconut pops.
When he opened the latch
the vapors uncurled and rose
and we leaned to watch
his arm disappear in Dry Ice.
(Mother had said Don’t touch, you’ll stick.)
We sat on the curb racing July
for the last, best licks
as creamy veins inched
down our arms, dripped on white socks.
Then night the felon hunched
over our street. Called
home, we whined and slouched.
It was years before I could tell
an oxymoron: the contradiction of Dry Ice;
before I dropped high-school
chemistry, bewildered by matter and valence.
solid carbon dioxide
-78.5 degrees Centigrade Years before I touched your face.