I dreamt I woke in winter—
even the river
silent, its tongue caught mid-
sentence, like mine
when someone looks at me
too closely. It had been years

since I understood winter
so well I knew it to be inside
my own bone-cage, since I had
smelled that kind of white.

White of the frozen rabbit
my spaniel dragged in from the back
yard, white of horse-breath in the barn,
white of birds so desperate
for seed they pretend colorlessness—

except the cardinal, drop of heat,
too neat to be blood, too brave
to be symbol. I woke in winter

and almost-knew what I had always
almost-known, back in those dark
five o’clock walks home for dinner:

something about loneliness living
in the well of the throat, something
about fur and burrowing
and black eyes
waiting for the thaw.

More by Katherine Riegel

What I Would Like to Grow in My Garden

Peonies, heavy and pink as ’80s bridesmaid dresses
and scented just the same. Sweet pea,
because I like clashing smells and the car
I drove in college was named that: a pea-green
Datsun with a tendency to backfire.

Sugar snap peas, which I might as well
call memory bites for how they taste like
being fourteen and still mourning the horse farm
I had been uprooted from at ten.
Also: sage, mint, and thyme—the clocks
of summer—and watermelon and blue lobelia.

Lavender for the bees and because I hate
all fake lavender smells. Tomatoes to cut
and place on toasted bread for BLTs, with or without
the b and the l. I’d like, too, to plant
the sweet alyssum that smells like honey and peace,
and for it to bloom even when it’s hot,

and also lilies, so I have something left
to look at when the rabbits come.
They always come. They are
always hungry. And I think I am done
protecting one sweet thing from another.