The John Edward Johnson Prize
Winter 2011
Randy Spencer

Ice Jesus

Each morning a man comes
to the edge of the glacier.
He sees love this way,
ice grinding under pressure,
channels of rock carried forward,
a moment of overpowering blueness
bearing down,
facets of pure diamond.

Each morning he walks to the edge,
rappels down the face of the glacier,
picks its most fragile point,
takes with him a mallet and chisel.
He carves the face of Jesus into the ice,
working late to shape the features
as if this were stone, and would endure.

At the end of the day as the warming sun
opens trickles of meltwater
along the crevices
and groans are heard along fissures,
he climbs up again, hand-over-hand,
his tools dangling from his harness.

When he is safe, the calving begins,
the image of Jesus peeling away,
shearing off in slow motion,
sliding into the icy water.

Each day the man comes again
to the edge of the glacier,
slips down over its exposed cliff,
begins the work of the chisel.
He sees love this way.

©2011 Randy Spencer