Nothing stopped a school day but a power outage
or a fever over 102˚, until that morning the snow
blows one polar stream up into another and we have
to dig trenches out the front door and climb out
on all fours into a desert that drifts for miles.
Winds whip powder up into miniature tornadoes.
When it stops, our voices stick in our ears
as if we’ve been sealed in a tomb. We hear
the deafening thud of a frozen apple
falling from a tree. Only from an upstairs window
can we see the farm houses shrunk in the distance.
My sister whines how she wants to go to school
to finish coloring in pictures of peonies.
My mother takes her hand. My father tugs
the window up, crawls into the frame, and whistles
before he leaps. Legs and arms spinning, he lands
with a grunt; it’s as close to a giggle as he gets.
Between the cornfields and horses, the trucks
and tractors, they hustle even to bed, eating supper
as if someone might steal their plates. Now, my father
lies in the snow like a prince. Mother tucks
her legs up and follows, her squeal a balloon leak.
The height makes me queasy but my sister climbs
the ledge and flies with her arms outstretched.
They catch her like a prize, these strangers,
waving me down, huddling together
as if for a portrait in a phony winter scene.