The winter of swaddling.
The winter I first noticed snow.
The winter of driving Amish neighbors to town, peering at girls’ faceless dolls.
The winter I first saw the crick freeze over, fretting for frozen crawdads.
The winter of sledding, of dad’s duty—towing toboggans upslope, just to push, then watch me fall away.
The winter I recognized Santa’s handwriting, the first twinge of doubt.
The winter of my first bike, giftwrapped in a sheet like some geared ghost.
The winter of a fresh ream of paper and 16 markers, ceaseless stories tumbling onto snow white pulp.
The winter of snow days spent cocooned in the infinity of childhood afternoons.
The winter giving became more exciting, the winter of hoarding quarters.
The winter of makeshift tornadoes.
The winter I misplaced god.
The winter of blizzard lightning, graupel, and the alien voice of snow’s thunder.
The winter of stolen cheer, of being iced in, when I sawed limbs off the landlady’s pine to doctor up a Christmas tree.
The winter of insomnia, the first snowfall of love, of dreams of your raven hair.
The winter of no more grandparents, of teary uncles, of gravel voices softening like spring snow.
The winter I tracked terns into your Arctic arms.
The winter spent wading through Great Lake drifts, the winter of snow boots and knee highs, of watching you catch snowflakes on your tongue, of envying snow.
The winter we spent knitted under the same blanket.
The winter of the weeklong blackout lit only by the glint of moonlight on ice.
The winter mom and I adorned the tree with baby’s breath, scarlet roses, and amaryllises.
The first winter without dad was built of steel and cumulus cold.
The winter I spent broken in an attic at the top of the hill, when the walls, my cat, and I would howl along with the wind.
The winter of Sufi lovers.
The winter the only fire was made of rum and whiskey, of the spark of your perfume and the soot of your cologne.
The winter I moved north, when Cleveland became an ice sculpture, my ice hotel, the winter of gentle rocking on the Rapid.
The winter distance taught me I loved you.
The winter you didn’t visit, when I learned to use all the words tucked in my rucksack and unlearned object permanence.
The winter of the new home, the brick and mortar miracle.
The winter of grace.
~ Holly Jensen