Words on a Snowy Afternoon

by McKenzie Caldwell (Univ. of Mount Union)

I tried to write something today.
And though my tongue puzzled over them,
the words wouldn’t break the seal of my lips.
I can describe those words—
they were watery blue with cottony swatches.
They ballooned to the roof of my mouth,
their spontaneous suspension inspired
by a legion of poetic voices.

Those words blossomed
at the sight of my Mennonite neighbor,
catching my car up on a hook.
His hands were the tawny color of leather gloves;
I imagined him slipping them on each morning.
But the words were gluey and shy;
they cowered in the ridges of my palate.

I stared out over the snow.
It ran on like a nervous rambling.
The cold inundated my sweater as
I pirouetted on the ice and,
with the sun reaching tentatively for my back,
was disarmed by a sudden warmth.
The snow crowded my ankles, though,
and my body began to wonder softly,
muscles murmuring beneath my skin.

The words were lost between us.

But in their absence,
we were caught in a photographer’s frame,
and the fences and the telephone wire
and the snow-covered predator that was the road
ran rampant through the world.

And all I could think of
was how the words had left me.