Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

February 16, 2014

Lifelines: Tales of winters past

January (or February)

(A sequel to Max Ellison’s poem, “October”)

The year is still young as a honeymoon,

but every night it shines like a Peeping Tom

through our frost covered windows.

January, (or February)

you are like a cold-hearted woman,

and I’m sick of you.

You’ve drained the colors out of me.

Since our first night

all you’ve given me is your cold shoulder.

Kiss me with warmth, ha!

I can count the times on one mitten.

You powder everything with Siberian white.

When you move, your nightgown

is like squeaking snow.

The deer are all starving in your nakedness.

Your silver hair drips like icicles

over your shoulders.

I want an annulment.

I sit here at my desk, an aging warrior lost between fact and myth. The words you read flow from the trembling fingertips of a man who witnessed and fought in some of the most terrible snowball battles ever waged on a school playground.

In the ruins of my imagination, they rival Homer’s Iliad, except we didn’t fight naked or barely clothed like the ancient Greeks.

We wore snowsuits and long johns.

Our shields were our thick foreheads.

Our Achilles heels were our tender red noses.

There were no Helens of Troy or weeping wives. The girls didn’t follow us into battle.

The young ladies didn’t stand on a nearby hillside and cheer.

They stayed inside the school where it was warm and ignored us.

Why were snowball fights banned on my hometown’s school property?

A half century later one version of a mob of truths comes out in this month’s poem. After all these years it’s still an uneasy truce.

Now and then an occasional snowball skirmish erupts.

The Good Old Days

He was strong as a wild man,

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