Ice Burns Like Fire

Ice burns,
and it is hard to the warm-skinned
to distinguish one sensation,
fire,
from the other,
frost.
~A. S. Byatt from Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
~Robert Frost “Fire and Ice”

Whether we are consumed by flames or frost,
if we rendered ash or crystal —
both burn.

Yet ashes remain ashes, only and forever
mere dust.

If encased in ice, a thaw can restore.
Frozen memories sear
like a sculpture meant to melt,
and thereby the imprisoned
are forever freed.

3 thoughts on “Ice Burns Like Fire

  1. What a searing description, with pics to match, of both fire and ice.
    In your profession, Emily, you must deal with patients who exhibit both such extreme examples of human nature – at its compassionate best and at its most emotionally destructive.

    I recall one such examples of two that I have witnessed. One was between a friend (Anne) and her mother who had been estranged from each other from the daughter’s early teens until her mid ’60s. The catalyst was a simple childhood picture of my friend when she was a toddler looking up at her mother who was standing away from her with her arms tightly crossed (body English ?) The mother was gravely ill and asked her daughter to get the family album to see pictures of her sons. She said that she had forgotten what they looked like when they were young. She thumbed through the album until she saw her sons’ pics and began to cry. On the opposite side of the page was one pic of Ann at 2 yrs. old. Her mother asked her who the little girl was. Stifling tears that began in the back of her throat, Anne said, ‘That is me, mother, don’t you remember’? Her mother said, ‘No, I don’t; I never had a daughter.’ With that she slumped down in a slight faint, racked with chest-weaving loud sobs. She looked up at Ann and said, ‘Where did you go? Have you been away all of these years?’. Anne replied, ‘No, mother, I have always been here, but it was you who went away from me – even though we have lived together in this house all my life.’ Her mother’s visage changed drastically as she reached out her arms, waiting for Anne to fill them. Anne hesitated for a few seconds, crawled over to her mother, now lying on the floor with her head resting on a pillow, and embraced her. She, too, was engulfed in tears. Her mother was caressing her and with a broken nearly inaudible voice asked Ann if she could ever forgive her. She added,
    ‘Is it too late, Anne; can you ever forgive me for what I have done to you, my child, my only daughter.’? Anne’s silent reply was to cover her mother with her arms
    and hold her close, rocking her like a little babe. (The situations now reversed!) I could see then, her mother’s entire body go nearly limp, as if a heavy weight had been removed. She looked at Anne and smiled. Both Anne and her mother’s eyes met in perfect love and forgiveness on Anne’s part and redemption on her mother’s part. Her mother was becoming pale and unresponsive so Anne called 911. As they waited for the EMTs to arrive, Anne tore out the one pic of her from the album and put it in her mother’s hands and watched as she grasped it tightly and held it to her breast. Shortly later, her mother died in the ambulance just before they pulled into the emergency entrance. She was still tightly holding her daughter’s pic., her face still damp from the tears she had shed in her redemptive soulful sorrow.

    So, yes, dear Emily, I know exactly what is meant by your unusually vivid post today. Thank you for it — and for the beautiful memory that I have of my experience with both the fire of repressed hatred and need to hurt and the cleansing of melting ice that allows love and compassion and forgiveness to be seen and experienced.

    Liked by 3 people

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