MEASURING WINTER /c

  1. Take the last train before quick nightfall out of the city you love, where someone you’d been trying to remember all day once loved you.

 

  1. Secure a window seat [and one not going backwards], so the frozen lights of towns from there to here, to where? to home can find you—huddled by the Christmas gifts, nodding off, remembering all the lovely strings of words the beloved gave you too many lifetimes ago.

 

  1. When the train conductor rouses you for your ticket, smile wanly through your tears; he’ll assume someone has died, smile wanly back, and hurry along onto the next passenger. There are paper napkins crumpled in the Dunkin Donuts’ bag from earlier to dry your face.

 

  1. Cautiously, count the twenty-two steps over the ice the clusters of gray salt didn’t melt on the driveway that needs to be repaved come spring. But that’s five long months away; no need to wince at the now-diminished checking account.

 

  1. Make a note to ask someone to assist you with installing an automatic light atop the garage door before you fall and break your neck. [You know you won’t think of it, otherwise.]

 

  1. Put the cold metal yardstick that the last snowstorm towered over back into the garage for the next Nor’easter to share the plentiful snowbanks on Facebook. People in warm climates, you know, dream of snow.

 

  1. Though exhausted, dispense the pills for the week into their cheerful, little apple green compartments and leave next to the refrigerator. Yes, Monday, so soon. You mustn’t forget to get gas for the car in the morning because too-little gas in the tank can freeze.

 

  1. Let the dog find your hand in bed and soothe him when he dreams of his other life before you; the life of his ripped left ear and muffled barks in his agitated sleep. You should have washed the bedding, but next week will be just fine.

 

  1. As promised, refrain from “X”-ing out days on the last month of the calendar in the kitchen while the water boils for coffee; use the thick teal marker to inscribe in each box that has passed, a wave, to be connected across the weeks.

 

  1. When you arrive home from work, plug in the eight strings of tiny blue star-lights [masterfully connected to just two electrical outlets] on the Christmas tree, tune the smaller of the two cellos with the pitch whistle, and perfect “Ode to Joy,” finally.

 

  1. Let the split pea soup simmer longer, so the tiny bits of carrots are soft before you bring four servings across the street to the woman who no longer knows your name, though she will recognize you.

 

  1. Be confident, the vertigo will lessen in the coming days [when the wavelength of the week finds the right margin]. Hold yourself upright and very still. Hours later when sleep still won’t take you, count the satin blackbirds in the skeletons of trees, three thousand of them in an ancient Persian text, backwards.
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