Children, do not mourn the snow
There is fear we say. Snow breaks over our feet.
The school bus drives away, a blizzard of young faces
at the windows. We fall sometimes when ice changes
the earth and to reassure ourselves we insist
there are no disasters here. But the day meanders
against our impatience as snow engulfs our bus
again and again. Inside, children carve frost-flowers
down from the windows to watch them melt against skin.
They barely noticed the drive begin while we floundered
on the curb, swiping at the cold. The shock of it all cornered
our voices until we examined the damage that silence makes
and waved goodbye too late. When the bus comes home again,
we kiss our children’s faces, pinked in this weather, turned up
into the wind that frosts the afternoon with light.
First published in MiPoRadio’s The Countdown, Episode 20, February 27, 2007.
Later appeared on The Atlantic, The Daily Dish, December 16, 2007.
—for my sons
Mostly, it was the dark that interested them.
The cracks and the dim wind that blew
inwards, down into the cold earth.
Not the high trails vined with blooming
rhododendron. Not the sky.
Mystery called them and they crawled
over rocks to answer.
It was the ease with which they went down
that bothered me. Their slim bones fit
where mine could not and they thought
nothing of it though I could tell that balance
was crucial. Sometimes, if I leaned over
the ledge far enough, I could see briefly
into the dark and a foot or a finger would
appear, the skin soft against the stone
as they moved deeper.
In the end, they disappeared into the silence
and there was nothing I could do. The young
go where they please because the spirit
demands it. I waited a long time for them
to return, their hair mud-dappled.
Their eyes shaded with knowledge
I had forgotten.
First published in Terrain.org, Number 22, Summer/Fall 2008.