December 31, 2001

  • Snow Hits Buffalo, N.Y.

    Cabin Fever by Virginia Conn
    (from WHEEL’s 1997 chapbook)

    I’m freezing, so I tack flannel sheets
    under the blinds, discovering the frost
    has resurrected the finger oils
    of someone named Linda. Twice
    the precise lettering appears, well
    out of reach of a child’s hand.

    The window overlooks the street.
    I’ve stood there, impatient for mail
    or visitors, yet this is the first
    I’ve heard from her. I scan my studio
    for other traces, blaming her
    for the erratic nails, especially
    one eye level screw, dead center, that
    no painting hangs from comfortably.

    I start to attribute other mischief
    to her; misplaced keys and night knocks,
    then fear she may be trapped, the bitter
    cold compelling her to contact me.
    “I never got out. It never warmed up.”
    I keep checking the pane for further word.

    I remind myself: It is winter everywhere.
    Outside, Buffalo trudges past, layered in
    clothes like shuck on corn. Like that screw,
    an act of defiance, Linda versus concrete,
    in relief of the wide white wall.

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