We only say it correctly when we’re learning to spell it,
a hint of brew, this month more soft-spoken than the last,
and short – though Valentine roses’ petals fall before ice melts.
Oh, some whisper it as a synonym for claustrophobia,
closing down or slamming doors so fast that cold
lurks abandoned out there where invisibles moan
and something smelly hides under the front steps.
The dogs have only so much energy for bounding,
accepting a place inside on the rug under a lamp
lit for the nonsense of another Irish murder
and a reluctant detective. Up this way snowbirds
leave for Florida, ditching out on nor’easters
for wrinkles and tans, grapefruit, rum runners
and mojitos. When the sky goes slush, and streets
crud up with gray mush that splatters red cars
into ghost cars, you wake in a three a.m. dream
to an inkling of winter ending that seems like one
of the sort death is out there, waiting which
you can’t deny but figure is still a ways away.
Tricia Knoll lives the short month February as if it is quite long in Vermont with the humping mounds of snow and intermittent sun that makes it beautiful. She is working hard on the proofs for her new chapbook Checkered Mates to come out from Kelsay Books this spring.