Winter Memories
by Andrea L. Alterman

The light I sit under now is warm like your hands were around mine when I was cold with depression,
when there was no heat coming from the steam radiators to keep my legs from cramping underneath
that woolen blanket I inherited from my mother, so many years ago that the scent of her wrapped in it
is now gone, and I miss her and her hands busy trimming fat from beef cubes on that wooden cutting board
with a butcher’s knife, making neat piles of meat and fat, wiping her hands, one with a crooked second finger,
on an apron I bought her one vacation I spent in the Bahamas in February when I needed to get some distance
from my life, like the distance I want now as I read my book about America in the eighteenth century
when the twenty first is too difficult to bear and that chapter about sailing back to Scotland reminds me
of coming home from college for the first time, it seemed like a decade or more although it was an ocean
crossing on a wooden ship with stops in Western Civilization, Basic Botany, and late night poker games,
but then I stop to make cookies for tomorrow’s lunch, think about how much time it takes to walk from my
door to the river where there are eagles flying down from Bear Mountain, diving for fish and I sink
with them feeling my fears fluffing out in the cold wind as they soar up, sometimes with a fish in
their talons, slippery with icy water, and I am slippery too, with tears of memories sliding off my
cheeks, down my lips and onto the pages I’m reading that remind me of times I wanted to forget how it was
that we were apart when all we wanted was to sit beside ourselves on our sofa, lay our heads on each
other’s shoulders and watch, as our eyes closed, a burning candle bright against the moonstruck night.


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