396: December

396: December

396: December

by Cecily Parks

              It was never supposed to snow
here, and yet
it was snowing, big flakes tearing down
     over the Edwards Plateau like the sky
                       had crumbled. My friend and I drank

              cold wine while our children played
inside with masks
on a big white bed. Another afternoon,
     my daughters sang a song about lords
                       and camp that I didn’t

              understand, but they didn’t like me
to ask what it meant, and
instead of answering rolled down the hill
      in their pajamas. Their
                       first secret. Then:

              first bright-red manicure, first
chipped nail, first note taped to the door
saying don’t come in. I went
      to the museum instead
                       and stared a long time

              at the draft on which Anne Sexton
had scrawled “At last I found you, you funny
old story-poem!” and felt a happy
      envy, happy for her
                       but not for me.

              Then: first time on ice skates,
chick-chicking around the rink, a string
of beads draped over one daughter’s head
      and my gold necklace still tangled
                       by the sink. Snow

               rolled over the prairie and held
the fence shadows when we threw
golden hay to the ponies who lived outside
      all winter. The black-and-white barn cat
                       was still alive

               and ate nervously in the garage,
where snow chains glittered on the floor. One night
I told a restaurant it was my husband’s birthday
      and they gave us a sundae. It was
                       his birthday, and at this point

               we were far from the Edwards Plateau.
I can’t remember when we left for that trip but I know
on the last day of December we had to go home
      and in the airport, waiting for the plane, I arranged
      our winter coats so that mine
                       was holding everyone else’s.

"December," by Cecily Parks, copyright © Cecily Parks. Used by permission of the poet.