“Koi in Winter” by Michael Mingo

Under the shallow slush the pond’s become,
protected by a shield of pebbled ice,
a koi lies motionless, his muscles numb.
What sunrays breach the surface can’t entice

the sleeper from his bed. However bright
his scales seemed in summer, winter has stripped
their copper of its luster, starved of light
to set them blazing in this frosted crypt.

Experience has promised him revival:
shimmering ripples in the breeze beyond
and April snowmelts quick enough to rival
the flood in Genesis. Until the pond

is so reborn, he’ll bide his time, each sigh
of water past his gills composed and dry.

Michael Mingo is a poet and medical editor from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned his MFA in poetry from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Spillway, RHINO, Third Coast, and The McNeese Review, among other journals.

This poem won the second place prize for the Crystal Ox poetry contest in Winter 2023.