From the fields the city lights are disorienting, the snow becomes glow snow, it is like a mirage. There are roads and there are hidden roads. A bike can go on the roads; some of the snow is too deep.
To camp I can build a quinzhee, almost anywhere– near a wire fence where they might bring the animals and the animals’ visible breath, the animals’ heavy warmth. Fleshy animals.
With each road that is covered a different way is shut. I can see the city, which is like a steaming pile of light, the farm houses, which are light caves. A quinzhee is like a mound, which is dark.
There are wicked labyrinths: that move while we sleep, that grow more blue and colder at dawn. There are labyrinths that are perpetually snowing, that are wide open land.
When I wake up and this is real, after I pull some fruit and nuts from my pack and eat snow from the walls. After I unearth my bike. The blue starts to fade to grey. I move on.
Maybe it is like cold sickness and we can heal it with winter squash and syrup. Maybe it’s not. The holidays are here, inevitably.
Three times I’ve come over to help you decorate and it never gets done. On your big Afrikaans table I brush the flour into the cracks between the boards– at this point it’s very finely ground.
I worry that you will undercook the chard again. Sometimes I tell you I want to date one of those skinny girls with the weird eyes. I’ll point one out when i see one, I say, they’re pretty much everywhere.
I am not weary, but I do want to dry my boots by your radiator, lean up against your oven. In your yard there is snow silence. Could you name what is changing in me? I pack your fireplace with newspaper and cringe in the draft
that drifts even in the cavernous engine of your house. There are pieces of wood that shine and reflect my face, areas of your kitchen that still have not caught the sunlight setting at 4:30
I had taken to doing the blasphemous mass with the club crackers and Riesling and everything had gone down hill and you became self-conscious about your body
and I became self-conscious about my blood– which I could feel clotting all over. The doctors found we were fine except for my anxious Catholic childhood.
When I run the clots jingle like bells or push up against my skin, as if the blood pressure is going to make it all burst through.
These things give way to the era of wellness retreats and health food eating that I give up because of poverty. And then the era of canned beans and boiling all the fat off the carcass.
I’ve learned that I cannot plan ahead or measure out intent. Instead I go snapping all the bones and saving each part that I have gnawed upon, until what I’ve hoarded away begs to burst–like with clotted veins.
There is a cabin full of tea and wine where the tannins have sucked all the salt from my body and there is the quinzhee that I have abandoned and the one I have yet to build–
though I’m stopped at a crossroads with cramping. Across the fields I can see many alluring drifts like the graves of napping beasts in the late afternoon night.
In an old tin can packed with snow there are memories of an empty prairie that stretches like a cloud, a home for beast-flesh that I will cook– a single white house that lives forever.
I know I have cold sickness and that there is no hope for anything, at least not for months. But I did not tell you that in my childhood, standing in the middle of a
pitch-black frozen lake I forgot my fear of being swallowed by ice and, in the winter’s ghost light realized that I had always been doomed for the magnetic north star.
When the rain comes again in December I’m in a bar of of Guerrero hoping for long years in which to trim my nose hairs putting off paying Pacific Gas & Electric because I know I can’t freeze here.
For the puck and for the fealty I’ve sworn to ice, for the thick armed butchers and their shower caps who I’ve high-fived crossing Minnesota just below the iron range for this giant Finn named Pekka Rinne crouching in the net. For Groveland Park and the way my lungs sparkled when they were freezing in January. For my Grandparents, the warming house, for Forest Lake when it was frozen by Thanksgiving When I made you giblet gravy from the Joy of Cooking and you wouldn’t eat it.
For the mornings when my roommate was baking bread. For now, when it’s been snowing for days. For weeks ago, when we were freezing in your apartment.
"On the third day of rain they had killed so many crabs inside the house that Pelayo had to cross his drenched courtyard and throw them into the sea, because the newborn had a temperature all night and they thought it was due to the stench. The world had been sad since Tuesday."
-Gabriel García Márquez (from A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings)
"I saw him with my own eyes: he looked like a worm with a straw hat and an assassin’s glare and he traveled through the towns of northern Mexico as if wandering lost, evicted from the mind, evicted from the grand dream, everyone’s dream, and his words were, madre mía, terrifying.”