After a Snowless Winter by Patricia Traxler


March blizzard; the late snow covers our world

like amnesia. All day our eyes are drawn to windows,

absorbing the endless swath of white beyond the glass

that holds it apart, pristine, like a painting of what’s real.


I remember when we all were here, how winter warmed

us then. Yes, attrition is a function of time, and we have to

ignore it as far as we can–buy a new address book, forget

the touch that woke our skin, the sweet imperative of meals,

unruly music of children’s voices, words alive in every room.


Sunday wafer on the tongue, absolution, old miracles we still

crave; love, maybe. And before everything, the words that were

to be believed, that gave us something to fear and love and live

up to; nothing left to chance, except everything that would follow.


The world is old now, war still abounds, meaning refuses attachment.

Bulbs stir in the ground, regenerate out of habit, away from the light.

I’m yours, I tell the air. The cold makes its way in then, and for hours

snow deepens across the prairie while frost blinds window glass.


No ideas but in things, he said, and yet the world is clotted with things

and often bereft of ideas. This belated freeze enters the flesh the way

love did–a mercy?–then makes its way into the heart, and stays.

The power to make something necessary, lasting, to place something

new where nothing was–anyone fears the loss of that. And of the need.


Somewhere underground now a river hurries over itself, blind roots

stirring as it passes, earth darkening around souls muted and stilled,

stones smoothening in the passage of time, while above we wait and

wonder: Is this what we were meant for? Who will tell us what was true?

~ Patricia Traxler

Patricia Traxler, a two-time Bunting Poetry Fellow at Radcliffe, is the author of four poetry collections and a novel, and has edited two anthologies of Kansas memories dating from 1910-1975. Her poetry has appeared widely, including in The Nation, The Boston Review, Agni, Ploughshares, Ms. Magazine, The LA Times, and Best American Poetry. She has read or served as resident poet at many universities, including Ohio State, Harvard University, Kansas University, the University of Montana, Utah State, and the University of California San Diego.

Tyler Sheldon is a graduate student in English at Emporia State University. His poems and articles have appeared in Thorny Locust, I-70 Review, Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, and in the anthology To The Stars Through Difficulties (a 2013 Kansas Notable Book). Sheldon is an AWP Intro Journals Award nominee and has been featured on Kansas Public Radio.

William Sheldon lives in Hutchinson, Kansas, where he writes and teaches. His work has appeared widely in little magazines and small press anthologies. He has two books, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley) and Rain Comes Riding (Mammoth), and a chapbook, Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill). He plays bass for the band The Excuses.


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