New England February

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This is the month that tests the hidden
frameworks of things: the studs within
the walls of home and body—both of which,
you suspect, are now becoming tenuous at best,
having already seen you through the previous
plagues of winter, and never creaked louder.

Even your faith suffers these days. You
hear “another blizzard” and find yourself
braving the miniature frozen world inside
the fridge, again and again, ensuring that
you have enough milk, even though you know
you already checked it earlier this morning—
the knowledge of this, perhaps, also nagging
at you as you make your way back to the couch,
and sit there, and brood, and start to worry
instead that you might be developing OCD.

You look for ways to distract yourself from
these morbid thoughts. You tell yourself
it’s only snow, after all—that another world
will surely come after this—and with
this new boldness to bolster you, you go
to your window, and open the shade, and gaze
into the whirlwind that your front lawn has
inexplicably become, at the acts of creation
and dissolution happening there: a new earth of
frozen milk, it seems, over-layering the old.

“God, why?” you ask the whirlwind, and when
it hurls its white cloud of broken glass at you,
(just like you knew it would), you do the only
thing you know how to do: the only thing
anyone can do in a New England February, when
the lintels of doorways all across the kingdom
are threatening to fail beneath the weight
of the dread angel’s passing, its behemoth grey
shadow blotting out sun and color, its leviathan
shoulder nudging at the icy crust of the world.

You go back to your fridge, and open the door,
and face that inner cold once again, re-ensuring
that you have enough milk—re-assuring yourself,
too, that you will paint the studs of your bones
with it, that you will hunker down and wait out
this last rage of winter, this final breaker of king
and subject alike: that it, too, will soon pass
over you in favor of another, less fortunate first-born,
leaving you intact, your own lintel untouched.

 

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Click here to read Elizabeth Moore on the origin of the poem.

The unprecedented string of blizzards that pummeled the greater Boston area in Winter 2015 approached biblical proportions, shutting down public transportation, closing local businesses, and leaving roads and sidewalks impassible. We hunkered down inside our homes and ourselves.

I found myself exploring the deep ties that exist between the outer and inner environments, and what it can mean to become “stir crazy”. What are the implications of finding that the safeguards we’ve built are brittle–including those constantly at work inside the ever-shifting, interior landscapes of our own minds?

Immediately after reading the poem, my husband asked me if he needed to venture out into the storm to buy some milk. We had plenty, it turned out.

 

Photo: “Buried in Snow” by Esther Weeks. Used with Permission