Midwinter in the Land of the Dead

Photo by Jacques Descloitres of a low-pressure system swirling off the southeastern coast of Greenland, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC, 9/4/2003


January 4, it's single digits,
never mind the windchill
Arriving home at dark, 
knees stiff, feet numb, I contemplate
frostbite, burrow under thrift store
comforters lined with flannel sheets,
wait for the brittle waning moon to rise,
muse refusing to shed bed linens until 
Persephone surfaces.

Outside my window, winds barrel like
semis on the interstate.  I tell myself these gusts
could only pick up a hundred pound person
and I weigh far more,
could only snap small limbs off the maples.
It's not like forests will be flattened.
It's not like falling out of an airplane.
or racing NASCAR without a windshield.
It's not even like that winter in Beckley:
thirty-nine inches of snow overnight
power out, we countrd down the cupboard's contents
four wheel drive pointless until
a medevac humvie flattens a trail.
Keeping to its tread, we escaped to
the plowed road and Kroger,
only to find the roof stove in,
corrugated steel walls burst at the seams, shedding
bags of loaf bread forlorn, not even looted:
West Virginia, Bob Henry once wrote,  where
"the roads are crooked
 and the people are straight."

Yesterday, forecasters called for the barometer to fall so fast
low pressure would loose a bomb cyclone
off the coast of New England. On NPR,
a Vermonter complained she'd already
burned through a quarter of her cord wood
with no new dry to be had.

Here, in Blacksburg, there's no snow and we still have power.  
At midnight, I get up and steep hibiscus tea, 
crack open a pomegranate, loose its ruby arils.  
Tell myself there're dishes to wash, soup to simmer. 
Tell myself I've grown sturdy: 
when temperatures rise to the fifties next week, 
I'll almost regret it.