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Adjacent Winters

Buoyed by the snow piles hardening up slick,  
I do the irritated dance of the cleatless around  
The black residual mounds higher than cars and  
Which may or may not contain cars.
I go walking among those who’ve gone shopping for flashlights,
Some of which will hold up against power outages,
In a cloudy twilight that I’d just as soon call night.
A suit of chilled armor over the pores brings to mind
Battles fought in ancient blizzards: Hannibal and his
Collapsed elephants and the bodies huddled around
For the last warmth of a dying colossus.

Don’t get any ideas they told me and for a long time
I didn’t.  Just allowing it all—-that was enough sometimes
Resistance was there pressing englobed against a best effort.
There were other winters like this, winters with a
risk of drowning invisibly or
Suffocating. And before it got cold enough, the snarls
of racoons gave unholy
Resonance from river banks over which I crossed
the bridge a dilapidated thing
The trains no longer used–the tracks pulled
up—-the trestles half-destroyed
In the process.  Never mind what darkness will do to a 
bridge of beams, reverse
Its positive and negative space that is.  The light
from somewhere, moon
Maybe, on the water, the only cue of a shaft.  There were spaces then to be
Avoided.  And if crawling was what it took to keep the vertigo under anesthesia

Close your eyes and do it.  There was a little farm down the road
Green and winding like a story book.  From an iron entry shone soldered letters
Spelling Morning Calm. And up from there was a farm house without any grass
And a rusted roof and a board with Evening Chaos scrawled in drippy paint.
That was where I lived in a rented room in the attic.
 autumn the rain fell and soaked the land five feet thick from road to river.
The cows sank below their knees and moved with great difficulty.
 the winter, the mud froze.  Cattle were arrested in ice for several days
Or weeks.     By the time a crane was arranged to move them
Each was dead.    If you live, time is the greatest crane
Digging a body out of its terror so that those days become a holograph
Never quite catching on beyond the little stamp on a credit card.


“Adjacent Winters” originally appeared in “Weber Studies ” and as part of
 a collection in Instinct: Poems

published by Bright Hill Press.

Available at ABE books.

“Snow Drift” is a digital painting by the author, Joanna Straughn


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