Overnight fresh feathers have veiled sled lanes, dirt stains, bootprints,
restored snowbanks ridging our buckled sidewalk to powder-soft Everest
(relentless impediment to driveway, herald of knifewind that freezes milk jug in trunk,
freezes gas in tank, bone-marrow and wind-tears on eyelashes).
Our warm youth conquers this new landscape half-hour at a time
(or winter would seep through seal-puffy coats,
nestle next to skin, gift us with shivers, sniffles, frostbite).
We’ve sculpted a house of nooks, fashioned haphazard furniture
into which we angle ourselves, rest wedged and cozy in cold.
We’ve scooped out a cellar seeded with sunflower shells scraped from snow under bird feeder.
We quest for treasure:
gutter drips knobby crystals that clink and meld to translucent pool of ice.
We pry them to sparkle in the dimness of mitten-dug cranny.
In this house hummocks trip the upright.
We clamber hands and feet, test with a boot-tip for the treacherous give
of still-loose snowflakes that will sink knee-deep under heel –
snow-cloak belies uneven layers:
surface lace-drift snugs tight like wet sand, packs to burdened shoulder of ice.
A house of inconveniences:
scarf muffles up to eyes, traps breath, pastes damp hair to cheek,
slips with every tilt of jaw until we peel the soaked fleece
and grin in stinging ecstasy of raw air bruising lips blue –
nose again then through hair and coat collar zipped to chin,
press into buffering scarf that scrapes frozen wet against numb mouth.
Chill has bruised to bone.
We tilt faces to languid touch of sun.
Mom is calling; we shuffle back.
Heater-breath melts crystal-stiff fingers, toes, clothes;
we peel mittens, snow crammed clammy between sleeve and wrist,
shake out boots, anklet of slush puddles on the laundry-room rug.
We settle back into the hot chocolate of home.