Snow – Cathy Smith Bowers

It was the only act of intimacy
I ever witnessed between them– that joke
my father told her, his opening
line…I hope it snows so deep…and then
how, for the punch, he reached out
and pulled her to him, to whisper words
that sent her red and slapping
at his khaki shirt and then her hand
lifting to his chin to remove
the little ghosts of cotton
that fluttered there. Our teachers
had sent us home from school calling
See you Monday that Thursday in December
as we ran crazed into the schoolyard
and to our separate houses
to hold vigil for that white coming,
that promise we wanted so badly to believe
we could feel, already in the graying
sky, its soft descent. All evening
the heater roared its warmth
into the room as we talked
of snow-cream so cold it hurt
your head, the fine spin a hubcap gives
down a hill of white. But by the close
of second shift, all that had shown
was a stray, barking beneath
the streetlight, our father in from the mill,
blowing the night from his hands
and telling that joke, his mouth burrowing
into the smell of our mother’s hair,
and somewhere, breaking dim above the smokestacks,
a few odd stars no one would admit to seeing.

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