Night buses puffing their grey breaths into the cold night.
Big flakes take their seat occupying city benches.
Cars iced shut, the park quiet as hospice patients
after they let out their last gasp of air in this life.
People hurry from one place to another. Rubbing
exposed hands to their face and blowing hot breath into
their hands folded the same way many do when they pray.
I can’t tell you the valentine the city becomes when the snow
moves over Lake Michigan and dumps itself all over this city.
Perhaps it is the memories I’ve built out of days like this,
the city turned pristine white, everything slow to move,
bundled up in gloves and scarves, trudging ourselves from bar to bar.
To be young is to be unable to nap through this.
Strangers outside bars huddle together to smoke and keep warm.
Inside, rosy cheeks from the sting of the wind become
rosy from the warmth of whiskey. My mind gusts
with dialogue and people, who have blown through my life,
my heart. Some great blizzards. Some full winters
of slow, soft falling flakes that accumulated. It’s nice
to look up at the sky and know somewhere those people
and I still share a sky. It’s my own way of holding on to
people blown into my life for seasons,
only to have disappeared the way winter inevitably does,
gradual, without notice. One day it’s warm
enough not to wear a coat, then the snow is gone,
then the robins are back and the lilacs and trees bloom.
Suddenly the earth has rotated and the river is rolling by.
My father was a fisher man. Each season, marked by
what kind of fish we were fishing for. I see years now
in Perch & Smelt & Rainbow Trout & Bluegill & Walleye.
I see seasons in people too. The friend that came for a fall,
a winter, a spring. Throwing snowballs at each other in Denver,
making our way down Brady Street for twenty-five cent beers,
nights of acoustic guitars, songs, and poems. Stiff drinks
in stickier barred bowling alleys. The easy way we’d lay
on the sandy banks of Lake Michigan and discuss films,
sex, girls, and our dreams of moving away from that beach
to the coasts where he would make films; I would write.
The girl who drank her liquor out of paper dorm cups,
always a Whitesnake CD in her car disc changer, the hours
we pretended we were going to be teachers, pretended
to run the school newspaper, which eventually became
‘nutrition club,’ when we realized, ‘maybe, if we made some food
the kids would show up.’ The best friend I never thought I’d lose,
road trips across the country, the day I spent throwing up
all over Kilauea, in the Mustang he rented. The spring nights
after my divorce ‘how you always happened to be in the neighborhood.’
Taking me out to eat for pizza and scotch when I had no food left to eat.
The blonde who loved to have her pictures taken in bikini’s on beaches,
drunken leap frog nights in DC, the way she always knew
how to make the trashiest evenings classy. They all swim
around in the fishbowl of my memory, and I wish somedays
I had the actual memory of a goldfish because if losing those you love
Is not one of life’s hardest things,
I’m not sure what exactly is? I sometimes write their names
in the sand or the snow. Some sort of SOS that hopes
to find them again. Carrying so many around,
these under-the-bed secrets you befriended in youth,
that have become these monster size holes ripped out of your world.
In these early snowfalls, you cannot deny
all the trees begin to look like angels.
I can’t help but wonder about them all,
where they’ve fallen, whose world their ‘beauty’
impacts now. In each footprint crunched into the fluffy white,
I wonder if they know the tracks, the imprint
they had on my life.