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Afternoon Painting by Zoe Turner

to she who fights the snow

by Sarah Sun

it is winter, and

i watch you leave each night from my vantage in the attic,

furtive fear in the pinch of your mouth, my candles doused and your

gait of footsteps burned into tenebrous eyelids; stark against moonlit snow.

yet i do not care where you go

because when you come back through these timber-framed hatches

silhouetted against a watermelon sunrise whispering by this honeycomb,

i can hear the soft exhale of your breath, velvet smile of lips

murmuring liquid words of stories that still my quivering shoulders.

i can smell mellow winters and brimming pantries,

meadows of pruned petals; faith-welded nirvana.

and when i see the twinkle in your motherly gaze,

your placid fingers reaching out to rasp against my fists—

tomorrow will be better than this chasm that was today—

i imagine you leaving each night with bitter resolve, shaking your fiery fist

when the frost bites, and stealing stars from merciless skies

to braid through my hair and string across this rotten wood-beamed ceiling.

i can almost ignore your scarred palms, plastered tattoos of war,

battle etched into your veins, the evening crescents beneath

baggy, vermilion windows. i can almost ignore

the desperate holes dug among forests of rime, quavering refrains of

clattering snow-soaked branches that wreath our paltry bale of firewood.

it recoils further each time a tear lands intangible; blue lips and scraps of cloth.

still i look and think, strong, like the evergreens.

still i listen and think, dulcet, like the daylight.

still i do not turn away

when you reach with chapped hands and fraught breath

to struggle and coax and beg a candlelight of comfort from this cold hearth,

these fruitless trees. still

i hope and i love and i wait.

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