Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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for Kelly Link
At first I mistook them for the hedgerow. That’s how
still the dead were, as they stood in my front yard.
In their hands they held the snow, which they’d brought
all the way from Canada. They had icicles
on their cheeks and chins, heads tilted back, snow
covering their faces. I watched
from the warm window, and when they saw my hand
parting the curtains, they thought I was waving.
The dead waved back. I felt obliged
to put on my coat, go outside. I brought
hot chocolate. The dead weren’t thirsty. They were
lonely for the living. We made dead snowmen,
dead igloos, packed the snow into a slide for the dead
children to go down. The dead love to leave
their footprints in the fresh snow, even if
they drag their feet. I don’t know why
I went with them when they started walking back,
past Canada, past Hudson Bay, farther.
We came to the North Pole. We kept going north;
when you’re dead, it’s important to stay cool.
I carried snow, no warmth in my hands to make it melt.
To get where the dead are going takes forever. You think
you’ll never arrive. Then you’re there.