The river flowed icy and black
as a stiff wind whipped tree branches
making the waving, bare trees crack.
The tops of the trees did cancans.
A sweet, dark-eyed girl about six
saw a strange creature flaming red
across the river, pointed, asked,
“Who is that?”
Her older brother
said, “I think it is the devil.”
“Come on over here, I’ve got treats
for you to try, delicious, sweet,
The ice on the river is thick.
It’s safe right across the middle.”
The devil whirled, and the wind wailed.
Gripping hands, they stepped on the ice,
but as they approached the center,
the thinner ice began to dip
and crackle. They began to slip
away, slid under cold water.
Now on winter days when children
walk by the haunted black water,
sweet voices seem to call to them,
“Stay off the ice on the river.”
by Elizabeth Southwood