Had I gone in a day earlier, I'd be there still. My puppet arms closing then fluttering wide, my fingers thawing, suppurating, bubbles no longer rising from the seams in my sleeves but what's left of my hair mussed up like always, the curls pulled west then south then north again not via the usual flipping and twisting but via tide, current, updrift, downdraft and then a deer swimming over my head one noon, its hooves combing my hair, my skull itself parting. Human skin has no receptors for wetness, some scientists claim, the sensation of wetness being instead a perceptual illusion, a trick played on the mind by thermal and mechanical sensory cues. I haven't read this yet. If I had, I might be saying, "In which case I'm not wet, only amped up," though since it's hard to speak while drowning I might seem to be singing, yodeling froth, my ears stoppered and numb, wrong notes effervescing.
Plus I'm not wearing boots, which filling with water would pull me straight under. Instead I kicked off my clogs when I left my parked car and ran for the ice, the wood soles clack clacking, then goose-stepped in socks, those marled wool socks whose toes fold under.
I'm rescuing Ike. March ice. Miller Bay. Lake Winnebago. Why is Lake Winnebago green? Why is Lake Winnebago brown? You'll find these questions if you google Lake Winnebago. Why is it dirty? Where is the deepest part? What is Lake Winnebago known for? Is Lake Winnebago a nice lake? Is Lake Winnebago a Great lake? How long and how wide is Lake Winnebago? How many people have drowned in Lake Winnebago? Just how large anyway is Lake Winnebago?
Beyond the seagull nesting island the lake is just now reaching its melting point, ice pooling in places, cracked open in others and breaking apart, the plowed roads that still cross it shut by edict for the season, all ice fishing shanties hauled to shore. Still the bay remains solid, the flat hard milky surface aswirl with old snow. Geese gather out there. The ice holds itself together then yawns itself open too quick to be seen before shutting back up, the geese lifting away, the sky clapping and honking, the dog righting himself, perplexed to be upright. The ice, too, contemplates. From the parking lot I hear it cogitating, the way we hear it sometimes from our bed in the mornings, the fragments worrying the whole, the slabs clattering to shore then tumbling anew then quieting themselves. Soon the dog reappears. I must have watched his reappearance before I saw he was gone. Then once more he slides backwards, making no splash even as he climbs out and stands dazed and chagrined, caught off guard by good fortune if that's what they call it, dogs spat back up again whole and besotted. Between us our eyes really do seem to meet, a rope lassoing us where in fact there's just air, sky glazing ice.