Coward

by KATIE CHAPLE

I watch the wind swirl snow from the tops of trees—wild gusts of snow that look like smoke, or if I’m being sentimental, ghosts, and it is hard to tell the snow that’s blowing from the snow that’s falling, and all that snow from the sky itself because of the clouds, and I’ve been told just this morning that you’re no longer in the world, and just last night I wrote an unkind thing down on the page about you, just one, true. And then I was much unkinder about your dead wife, who you loved. A branch of ice just broke from a roof and slid down in the sunlight from a sun I can’t see at my angle. And that thing I wrote down could be seen from a different angle. Now there’s an avalanche from the roof of a building warming itself from the inside—ridge after ridge dropping and fracturing. The field of snow shows marks, little pits that’ll be covered over tomorrow with more snow. The river, limited by my window moves, means movement, and the way it flows, it looks like snakes slithering, a wrinking over and over that doesn’t alter, so it seems I’m looking at water gripped by a pond. That thing I wrote down last night could be seen as grace, something which you are in no position to give anymore, and a thing I’ve just learned something about.

KATIE CHAPLE is the author of Pretty Little Rooms (Press 53, August 2011). She teaches poetry and writing at the University of West Georgia and edits Terminus Magazine. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Antioch Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, Passages North, Southern Humanities Review, Southern Poetry Review, Washington Square, among others.