The Underside of Snow

Ray saw the light on a Friday in the middle of a snow storm

Saw it over Farm to Market Road and thought it was a star

Then an airplane breaking the sound barrier

Or a space ship come to land on the silo

Come to check the silence in the under side of snow

She looked away just in time

Focused on the woman floating in her freezer

And wondered at the kindness in her eyes

A drop of sorrow ran down the frozen woman’s cheek

And landed on a pint of Rocky Road

Ray wanted to touch the drop with her finger

To rub it on the scar that ran along her own wrist

But it was easier to dig in the familiar

Easier to turn on the news and get down with Ben and Jer

A crooked spoon was halfway down her throat

Plunging satisfaction toward her belly

When she saw the light again

Saw it in the chicken coop across the yard

At first she only moved her eyes

As if caught in the act of forgetting who she was

Then it burst through the window in the kitchen

Bleached the cafe curtains, melted the refrigerator

Evaporated cleansers and scorched the teflon

Until all she could do was stand and behold

That night, in the desert, she felt the roughness of her bones

Felt them hers and not hers and prayed for some kind —

Please, God, any kind of rain

But the heavens were silent as the inside of a blizzard

So she walked until her hands became her feet

Until the needle factory closed for the night

And children played tiddlywinks in artificial wombs

She woke in a mirage of taffeta ribbons

The frozen woman waiting underneath an elm

Blinding nervous shadows with the kindness in her eyes

Ray went all jiggy inside and began to sink

Then she picked up her knees and threw them out the window

And touched the frozen woman on the cheek

The man on the news was getting all worked up about a Meltdown

His voice rising high enough to deafen dogs

Ray inhaled a breath of tears and turned him off

And as ash fell like snow on the last of the city

Ray kissed the frostbite from the frozen woman’s lips

And together they entered in silence

The heat at the heart of the NewClear Age.

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