Sidewalks are the new riverbed. Water rushes down the slightest incline over cracks that break your mother’s back. Liquid leans over the frozen curb and flows down the path of least resistance.
But not you, little boy. You pick the hard way. You bypass smooth terrain and slushy asphalt. You summit each and every, yes, EVERY mountain of plowed snow. You hold out your hand to pull me up. I say okay. It’s more fun when you’re in charge.
Rain taps, chisels, chips away at winter’s stone. Moisture settles on our cheeks. My eyes go misty. Fog hovers above snow, moving slowly like my legs do in dreams. It swirls down into ravines. All through the woods we see open paths, naked trees, no leaves to hide the view. Our snow boots want to follow.
I say let’s go back for my camera. You say okay, let’s jump the fence. And then another. I believe you that I can be that girl once again, the one who tore her jeans on chain link.
Hoof-marks dot snow drifts. Lanky-fingered prints betray robber raccoons. We giggle at rabbit droppings and the frayed grape vine in the yard, signs of those who’ve lived through winter’s spell.
I remember the way you made your own tracks once. My battery dies. I’ve got just one picture, a snapshot of your boots on melting snow. But I’ve got these images in my head…and sounds too.
“We just took the kind of walk that involved climbing over two fences!” You gallop over to tell it to the neighbors. I feel the warmth in my chest.
Grates guzzle and gulp. We slide off a waning iceberg to puddle jump at the meeting of winter and spring. Out here and in me, a spell breaks.
After I’d written this piece, I came across this lovely Langston Hughes excerpt from The Underground through @langston_poems on Twitter. Enjoy…