by Larry Eby
A ribcage of snow with a beating heart, a west wind moving the cold front over us. The churches kept their candles burning. We stood outside licking at the air in our rain coats, rubber boots—our dogs trouncing in the blizzard. It began light and ended heavy. 4 inches, 6 inches, a foot by next morning. The days were overcast—thunder rattled a glass off a counter. We began to stay inside. Our lights hidden in the heaps of snow. We talked about death. Where could we bury anyone now? The electricity had gone out. 3 days. 4 days. A week. The whole town a field of white. The telephone lines seemed at ground level. We dug upwards, trying to reach some air. We were some type of animal, we realized it now. We saw it in our eyes. To kill or die.
Then: the flood.
When the snow began to melt, we couldn’t keep the water out. Knee deep in rain water, we walked through our houses gathering food, gathering dry clothes, tools, matches, coal. In two days, the water had gone. It was the heat that scared us. We could feel our skin again. It was a birth none of us could speak of. We emerged from a frozen womb, kicking at the sun as if it could feel us too.
Larry Eby is the author of two books of poetry, Flight of August, winner of the 2014 Louise Bogan Award from Trio House Press, and Machinist in the Snow, ELJ Publications 2015. His work can be found in Forklift, Passages North, Fourteen Hills, Thrush Poetry Journal, and others. He is the editor in chief of Orange Monkey Publishing, a poetry press in California.
Image credit: Angelo Amboldi on Flickr