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Ice Breakup on the Lake

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sargents bay in late march

Sargent's Bay, Lake Memphremagog, March 2011 (Photo: Louise Abbott)

Lake Memphremagog has long inspired artists. Among them is spoken word performer Kathy Fisher, whose family has inhabited the lakeshore around Ritchie Point and Gibraltar Point for several generations. Kathy's spoken word piece ice ships, which evokes ice breakup on the lake,  won the Spring Fever Spoken Word Poetry competition sponsored by the Calgary International Spoken Word  Festival and the Calgary Herald  in 2010.

Listen to ice ships :

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Kathy Fisher in performance (Photo: Jack Bawden)

If you're interested in hearing more of Kathy's work, you can purchase her CD think of me naked from Studio Georgeville ( or through us here at Rural Route Communications.

Do you know of other painters, sculptors or writers who have found their muse in Lake Memphremagog or in the landscape around it? Please tell us about them! Our email address is

 Below is the print version of Kathy Fisher's ice ships:

ice ships

in the winter    the wind died

down    to trees and drifts    over the hard-skinned

lake    the water bound    tethered    held    still   no matter how wild

the weather

that skin started melting two weeks ago    slushed up

at the edges    first    then cracked and split in jagged lines   she moaned and cried

with otherworldly snaps and groans     as she gave up her ghosts  

like Michelangelo’s marble     giving up its bodies


the last evening of ice skin    huge islands of chandelier crystals

sailed by Ritchie Point where i stood    the sound champagne and velvet   

crushed ice jostling with crushed ice    cocktail party soldiers    shouldering

their way to the punch bowl

i saw ice ships sail swiftly    race in round shapes    

destined to crash up onto the opposite shore    it was inland Titanic   all beauty

and blue notes   dance and destiny   the face of a final shoreline crush    ice


i stood still    transfixed by sound and the rose light

caught on an apple-cheeked cloud    darkness riding underwater currents    the swish

sound of ghost ships    untethered    untied


it is their last night    and they race with ballroom abandon    unhinged    ecstatic   

caught by their own beauty    they echo looking-glass gasps    as they fly by    slide by    mesmerized    cut their death glide across the black surface    perfect    


the next morning     i wake up to open water    wind whipped

white-caps pound evenly on the broken ice edged shoreline    winter has given up

her whiteness and hardness    to spring    watch as the wind unwrinkles the water  

releases this lake’s black body from three months of statue stillness  

in the waltzing wind    white gives herself   

to grey