By Caroline Misener
For Sharon: November 13, 1981
The wind bore through the cloth of my coat,
Casting glass missiles through its scant armour,
But such is the nature of snow.
It was a hand-me-down from my mother
Who had lost weight and gloated
That her clothes didn’t fit her anymore,
But I was just plump enough to don it,
And besides, I had nothing warmer to wear.
The snow gathered in piles of white plush
Against my eyes and cheekbones and nose,
Soaked my hat and we dipped our heads
Into the gusts; the snow glazing your
Curly black hair like sugared lace.
No use, we said, to wait
For the bus, we could easily walk
The distance; it would be faster and easier
To slog along the crusty sidewalks
And it would spare us the ordeal
Of the surly driver with his cocked back cap
As he struggled with the wheel, and the reek
Of snow-soaked bodies, weary
From the day’s work and the grey saline slush
That seeped through the cracks in our boots
As it melted into the grooves of the rubber mats.
No, we said, we’d rather walk;
We’d make much better time
Than the humpbacked cars caught in drifts
That had slid across the laneways and intersections,
Their windows dusky from fog-blasted heat
And the air inside them dry and pungent.
I would have preferred the whitewashed ruin
Of the afternoon than what awaited me at home.
I preferred your warm companionship, discussing
Books in the aluminum bus shelter, than to
The loathsome drunk splayed on the couch at home,
Waking just often enough to tell me
What I was doing wrong, to tell me
How I ruined his life the day he married my mom.
But it was he, who’d ruined my life,
Plucking me like an orchid from
My garden of familiars.
How I loathed his drinking, dunking
His bland soul in a bottle of glitters
He kept hidden under his pillow,
Believing we’d never know,
While outside the snow beat and bunched
In the corners of his windows.
And we, Sharon, were caught
In that bubble of whiteness.
I thought if I died that day
It would quiet the sky.
But no such luck, with you, Sharon
A stranger and a friend.