November 2020

Exulansis

The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it. – The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows 

To my Northern friends: I regret

I can no longer speak with authority

about winter. I’ve forgotten the feeling

of ears ringing with the silence

of fresh snowfall, air so cold it stabs

the lungs. Gone are those Norse names,

the rough wool, heavy boots,

bodies bent against wind so fierce

there must be a name for it in Lakota.

I can’t recall how despair closes in,

a cloud blanket for days, dense, ominous.

Remind me how, in a whiteout,

a person can get lost between car

and house. Tell me about

children in mufflers waiting

for the school bus in handmade huts,

the shush of skis down slushy streets.

Didn’t we find Easter eggs nested

on the icy crust? I do remember

that just when you vow to never

shovel another drive,

the bright flags of daffodils flare. 

— Debra Kaufman

Debra Kaufman’s most recent book is God Shattered

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