The sinuous path to the river and its now-silent, thickly-layered ice remain too treacherous for the car to climb.
I’m too tired and ill to build another fire, and the house has suddenly gone cold; too exhausted to tell you more until tomorrow late afternoon—before early-winter dusk settles in dusty pinks and cornflower blue, imbuing the sky the way your watercolors sink into thick parchment paper—
when you’ll find me wearing a purple face mask adorned with thick, silver glitter and fractured stars—breathless at your side porch door, speaking to the smallest, nervous birds you feed in winter, assuring them they’re in good hands.
You’re somewhat pleased about my surprise visit, I can tell, but your stomach has plummeted into your spleen—afraid I’ve come in dire emergency or to bear disturbing news that will crumple your New Year.
I’ll explain that I urgently require another human to sit across from (a safe six feet away) to dish, spill, explain.
After you acclimate to my unannounced presence, you settle your weight against the house’s blue-gray wooden shingles that need to be scraped and repainted in the spring.
I surprise myself as the words cascade from my salty mouth to your porch floor that slants a bit, which would be even more noticeable if someone were to set free a large marble, its black Evil Eye rolling slantwise while unconditionally protecting us from iniquitous spirits—
“What are we here for?” I ask you as if I’m probing you for commentary on the snow now falling.
You look at the sky to formulate what I’m confident will be a thoughtful, bullshit-free, and extraordinarily-articulate answer. I love you that way, but won’t tell you, afraid you’ll become too self-conscious to answer the question for which I have walked three miles in my snow boots to inject into the air between us.
“Please put the kettle on for hot Middle Eastern tea and the fresh mint” that you grow on your sunlit kitchen window above the farmhouse sink.
You gently remove a glass (with a delicate glass handle) you purchased winters ago in Istanbul in the Medina closest to the Blue Mosque.
The kettle will whistle with a piercing sound that hurts my ears before you pour the boiling water carefully into the hand-crafted blown glass that will soon warm my cold hand. I failed to find the missing winter glove I lost in the brown, barren field the day before Thanksgiving.
Then, even more nonchalantly, I ask you to be so kind as to shuffle your worn deck of cards, the ones with miniature angels on the back that your mother gave you when you were six when your now-deceased father was teaching you patiently how to play bridge, how to resolutely hold your cards tight to your chest (even the low numbers) with the poker face (especially when holding trump cards and aces) you would learn to perfect when much older.
Finally, I’ll ask you in a breath barely above a whisper to regale me with stories of summer—about girls with seaweed hair swimming in high tide who are unafraid of the sea floor, the fish slicking the silver scales of their tails; stories about the garden in summer, the gold-fish nasturtium you pick for garden salads, their over-sized lily-pad leaves hanging horizontally as if by magic in a forgotten fairy tale, how the tree frog stuck itself to the inside garage wall and visited you, how the garden clutched all of August’s sun.