Cold Snap

He had always enjoyed a sudden drop in temperature
responsibly leaving a tennis ball in the fish pond
so’s they could still get their oxygen
and stay in their sluggish half life through till spring.

He’d take the children sledging
encouraging foolhardy levels of speed and steepness
brushing them down when hurt
holding them with his rough idea of comfort.

They grew up with high and exciting pain thresholds
a bright love of the patterns in ice crystals
a lust for rushing wind on rosy cheeks
and a fearlessness on frozen lakes when they creaked underfoot.

He was always there in the vaporous air for them
even into adulthood, when other people started to matter
and make claims to their dependence. Father, unreliable and indestructible.
Mother,serene and cautionary…..

They were a perfect team in a cold snap.

Then one January day he wandered off during a time
when the weather was indeterminate, not knowing  whether to plummet
or soar into summer. It was as if he had been restless in between seasons,
perhaps gone to a more extreme climate
where he would be certain of his role, clearing snow, cutting firewood
gritting roads, showing children how to shine in the frost
and keep on the move to stay warm
….anyway he didn’t come back for years.

He showed up at his wife’s door many Novembers later
dressed in worn mitts and foreign skins, offering to make himself useful.
Frostbite had taken several fingers, but he was able and deft with those left.
She gazed a tired gaze into his pale blue eyes, and closed the door on him.

Then there was a cold snap.

Some days later the children were called to a room across the city
where their names had been found next to his stiff body,
they asked the policeman for the cause of death.
“Hypothermia probably”¬† he said,
“Alot of it this time of year”.
















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