This Year’s Color

Radiant orchid
throughout each season—even now
when rain can’t quite

wash away the most hardened dirty
snow. Somewhere the temperature

drops just enough at night
before a warming settles in. Somewhere
someone sings,

“California Dreamin’”
to coax things along. Someone

somewhere is still searching
for a word that rhymes
with orange.

Ice in Formation

It could be a horse’s white
mane that hangs

over an outdoor
sconce. Week after

week, it doesn’t melt. Is it
permanent? She hears

a recording of her own
voice and wonders who

might want to curl up
inside it till it thaws.

Toughened or Tempered

A mural on a sound
barrier wall won’t disturb

the peace. A movie
flashing on an ice rink dasher

board will not melt. But
air measuring

14 below zero Fahrenheit
with 35 below wind chill will

make your eyes sting. And who will shed
Dutch tears?

Odds Are

A city club awning becomes
the abominable snowman’s mouth
full of icicle dagger teeth. I don’t want to

wake the beast. I walk uncovered,
keep a safe distance
from the fringe. Let snow fall
on my head instead. I don’t believe in

monsters but know my beliefs
have nothing to do with it—winter
risks, or getting struck by lightning come spring.

Prosaic Dream

You are not in
her dream—merely fragments left
behind to prove

you were here. A small sketchbook,
a pair of socks, one
thick glove, a trace

of your carefully constructed
thought. She handles
the sketchbook but

finds an old-fashioned band
flyer with a letter scrawled
on the back

more appealing. Scans
the words—sees her name
near the bottom of the page. Slanted

forward. You know what
they say about that. And then

she wakes up. No idea
what the letter said
about her or who

it was addressed to. It’s 20 below,
and the cat’s licking bedroom
window blinds again.

Almost Thaw

She waves to the engineer
as an abbreviated freight train passes by—

heading southwest. She’s running
northeast now on snow

and slush. Could be quicksand
in spots, could be something

to complain about. But
she’s already said “hi”

to a XC skier and a couple
of women with dogs. Already made it this far

nearing the north end
of Lake of the Isles

without getting frostbitten
or falling down. May as well lean

in and call it
January bliss.