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Ode to the Penultimate Snows

Allison Cummings

Ode to the Penultimate Snows

When snow days still the city, we
goggle balaclavas to glide in grooves,
carve snow caves in nine-foot drifts
to hide in white hush, pack snowballs
to ambush siblings,
or sculpt ghosts in scarves,
skate above black lakes bearing tracks
of Ski-doos, fishing shacks,
and midnight dear

sniff the glittering
wind sifting through a crystal palace
of birch and fir
swaddling the stumpy ruts
of summer swear in sastrugi ridges,
fattening apples and quince,
sub-zero slowing the adelgid chewing
a steady path north.
Inside, frost feathers the windows
Each side of the solstice,

mirrors the hemlocks’ lace at dawn.
In portraits and paintings, we freeze winter’s
evanescent splendor like birthday
photos of elders our grandchildren
will not know or mourn.

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