The Snow (Stands to My Waist), (Like) Me (Falls Still)

Jill Osier
Winter, friend, I get it. We are having a long talk 
and have just gotten into the thick of it.  
 
Days ago the signs were there.  
I was the only thing dark and moving 
 
through the white woods, and my leg kept leaving me
small grey commas of ice seen coming back.  
 
This is a very long talk we’ve been having. My body already knew 
and began to make an important list.
 

More by Jill Osier

Elegy

Not every day but most days that summer

I went calmly and quietly and climbed

to the sixth floor of the library and walked

not fast and not slow but with purpose

down the last row and reached

almost without looking to the same

place on the shelf and pulled out

the large book and carried it to a chair

that looks out toward the ridge, to a mountain

that is there, whether it is or it isn’t,

the mountain people love, maybe for this,

love and die with all their love,

trying, and I opened to the page

where I left off before, and sometimes the library

announced it was closing, sometimes I got hungry,

sometimes it looked like rain, and I’d close the book

and carry it again, with purpose, back to its exact

place on the shelf, and I’d walk down the stairs

and out of the building, and it was like

I’d left it ticking.

Siberian

On the day they killed the last caribou,
I was in love—and I did not know
caribou or cities or the needs of either.

I did not know scilla, and did not know a new love
would be hired to trim the grass around it. The blue flowers
came up through the grass like the grass remembering.

This new love and I, we drove once between cities of snow,
and through the trees I could see a herd moving,
matching us, pulling away.

Star Field

Folks would talk about it,
and even after I lived
in that mountain town
months, a year, even after
getting close with the girl
from the pharmacy,
guys from the woods, I did
not know.

I waited to somehow divine
what it was. Be invited. Still
I imagine a great expanse,
a meadow, high above the town,
of tiny flowers, like lovers
on their backs, looking up.

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Untitled [Toward night]

Toward night, frail flurries of snow. Fingernails of willows scratching frost from the edges of the kitchen window where I watch the field beyond the fence where once corn was taller than a man can reach but now I gaze into the kitchen of the next farmhouse and watch the man with a bad leg hobble from sink to table to feed his mother with a spoon. I keep the lights off and study snow to augur from the flakes what fortune I may. The furnace does its duty and cars pass, swirls of flurry captured in fading prisms of red. If I stood on the road it would glow and crackle beneath my feet. The air would be muted, my own breath sounding as though it came from another body, a shadow leaning faintly toward me as though to whisper any comfort. Animals would unshelter themselves to stand waiting at the fence. Snow would settle everything. I would cup my hands, realizing I had become what it was I wanted to be. The body beside me would breathe on. The two of us.