Ice fringes the bare birches. Black crows
pour across the frozen sky, cawing
after an escaping hawk. The wind
waits for my body to fall in on itself─
such a long time coming, this white static─
my spine cracks like knuckles under a valve
convinced it’s my heart. Despite all
protections paid ─ mountains of kale, etcetera─
I’m no longer myself here. I’ve lost
my keys, my last address, the big picture.
Every night this week this winter
I’ve stood under a lace of snow
while freedom seized the sky─
birds clouds moon─
and felt my body fill with another
kind of melancholy. From the silence
inside my solitude comes an impulse
to explain it ─ but I’ll never utter the words.
What would be the use?
I know how slippery they sound
and how subversive memory can be.
It was years before I understood
the sun’s last yawn through winter maples;
the yard all harrowed field, exhausted
by false starts. Why must the season end
with trees dying to such an ambiguous yellow?
It misleads those of us who’ve given up.
I wasn’t always so gullible. Through
my fogged mirror, I could touch the face
of my mother, and I knew what was in store.
While I stopped looking, the fading continued,
with flicker enough for me to imagine
what more I’d lose and all I’d leave behind.
I was startled by the halo of moons
and the shapes emerging from a muffle
of dusk at first, but now I’m clear eyed
as the child I was, dreamy and melancholy.
Watch her, knees to chest on the porch,
drinking in the bright garden of the world.
Cheryl Snell’s books include four novels as well as poetry collections from Finishing Line, Pudding House, Moira Books, and other small presses. Her work has most recently appeared in Eunoia Review, One Art, and The Rye Whiskey Review, and others. She lives in a suburb of DC with her husband, a mathematical engineer.