THE CHERRY TREES MUST HAVE SNOW

 

I smell palm trees and salt in the southern breeze

This makes no sense

It’s January in Michigan

yet bulbs push above ground

and magnolia trees try to bloom

I never thought I’d pray for snow

for a white blanket to insulate

for a cold so hard my breath would ache

for the clock to run forward

ticking its way to the correct temperature

We used to dial time and weather on the telephone

to be reassured that it was exactly

two minutes before midnight

or five minutes too late

or twenty degrees above or below the magic hollow number zero

To step out or not

To let bitter air crash in through the door

The dogs’ paws bleeding

Snow forming ruts in the streets

Sheets on the neighbor’s clothesline, iced

A cracking sound

slips across the lake

where fish swim in sluggish circles

looking for blue worms

in the blue light that the low sun can’t break

On some horizon a wisp of smoke rises

like a hand waving

Wood and damp clothes drying

We return with our children and our grandfathers

To the only kind of winter we have ever known.