Oct 12, 2010


Written by Nancy Reddy

Read by Jennifer Jabaily Blackburn

When we were children we wanted to be orphans.
The snow came early and halved the treeline.
Branches still flush with leaves heaved with ice and snow
and split at the waist. The sky was then a curtain

lifted on an empty stage. We crawled in the snow
to the back of the yard — past the clothesline taut with ice,
past the barn where cows stomped their feet in frosted mud.
In the farthest corner of the yard, under the tree

whose bark was ridged so deep we pressed our fingers through
and felt the tree’s black heart, we made of snow and fallen limbs
a cave, nestled in to wait for evening. Each branch
was encased in ice, slender tubes we slipped off and held

to the pale evening light. We shivered in our snowsuits,
whispering the story of our parents’ death. We imagined
the tragic news, our photogenic weeping, tire tracks
on the gravel drive covered again in snow. But no.

We did not wish. We knew our small thoughts had power,
as when the winter before, after he told me
your father’s gone and won’t come back and waited,
thin-lipped, to see me cry, I wished my grandfather dead

and within the year we’d buried him. The days
were slow and edgeless, so we imagined them
torn. This was no game. When the darkness came
and our mother called us over and over, we did not move.