The free-verse poem “Ice” is a monologue that dramatically narrates the speaker’s experiences as a cast-off teenager, her killing of her child and her man, and the warm memory she has for this man as she comes to reconcile her adolescent confusion. The poem consists of four stanzas, the first three having thirteen lines each and the last, twelve. The title word proceeds into the first line, with the thought that will compare the conditions on a river as a harsh winter ends with the chilly and irresolute emotions she felt toward her new family.
The speaker is a young woman. Throughout the poem she addresses her lover, beside whose grave she stands. She had strangled their first child, which the reader discovers only after being confronted with the oddly juxtaposed images of the sunrise surrounding her man and the baby’s skull in the box. Despite having violently attacked and killed him, she finds that her affection for him strengthens. In this monologue, Ai creates an effect similar to that achieved by Robert Browning in “My Last Duchess,” except that Ai dramatically relates the specific details of the speaker’s actions.
The opening stanza establishes the fact that, as an adolescent Choctaw, she is far from home, living in Minnesota. The Choctaws were called one of the “Five Civilized Tribes” of the southeastern United States; however, taking up European ways did not exempt them from being forcibly removed from their original...
(The entire section is 452 words.)