Here, where Oregon’s winter is
consistent and predictable, like a bowl
of rice set at the table for every meal,
all that is needed is to part the curtain
slightly or extend an upturned palm
into the day. So each morning I check
the weather in other places instead –
landscapes that hold the people I love.
Colorado, where one day might crest
with snow and the next stream with sun.
Where clouds rise off the mountains like
steam, and wind talks through the aspen
as it rushes down the foothills to run
through the tawny, dry grass.
Orcas Island, volcano-made, tucked
into its rain shadow, buoys up
my family in cool salt air.
Soft waves slap the ferry landing as if
greeting a friend; cormorants stretch
their wings into slantwise sun.
And Michigan, adrift with flurries,
hunkers my relatives under ice.
They rub palms together, blow their
secrets into cupped hands, place
fingers on each others’ cheeks
to ease the chill, melt what’s frozen.
Knowing all this makes the grey centre
of winter, the distance of those I love,
almost bearable. Somewhere, a snowflake
balances on the cuff of a coat, orients
itself like a compass in my direction:
the symmetry, the patterns, the dark spot
it will leave when it goes.