by Carrie Conners
Everything gets buried in winter. Rows of mailboxes crane their necks like shipwrecked sailors treading water, praying for the rescue boat. Beautiful, some say, how it glimmers in the moonlight like sugar or diamonds, but it’s just a smothering silence. Abandoned items peek out, the hand break of a bicycle still chained to a street sign, the yellow butt of a wiffle ball bat, the faded roof of a plowed-in beater someone vowed to fix when the money came in. Others hide in the snow banks at different levels marking the temporal history of the winter’s storms only to be revealed again during the slow thaw of spring, like that Wisconsin winter my husband and I neglected to pick up dog shit and our yard became a real life stratification map, like the multicolored cross-sectioned diagrams in archaeology textbooks where fossils are shown nesting between layers of shale and limestone, with excrement instead of trilobites and ancient cephalopods (no dinosaur fossils have ever been found in Wisconsin, just some giant beaver bones from the Ice Age. The archaeologists cite erosion during the Permian and Mesozoic Eras as the cause, but maybe, like me, those fossils weren’t thrilled about the locale). Each day of the thaw I’d gingerly step onto the margins of the softening yard, try and bag a few specimens, leaning over in yogi fashion to reduce the astounding number of sun-slicked poos (all from one dog!) offering themselves up to the sky, feeling the eyes of neighbors. It had all begun innocently: we continued our non-winter practice of picking up the yard every few days, but it was snowy, near record levels. Every other day another few inches fell, covering the shit. Bracing winds and thunder snow with lightning bolts; we gave up. Of course, during the thaw we vowed never to ignore the shit again, to pick up every time, and we did reform that habit. But I still do it, bury shit knowing it will resurface, guilt over moving us to a new, slightly warmer city, then getting us stuck, not good enough to move again. Guilt over my heart’s lack of warmth here in this less cold place. I wonder what it will take, having already lived through a shaming, smelly metaphor. Maybe I should draw a diagram of myself (anatomy meets geology), show it to those I love, then they can see the desire to reach out is right there, just buried, waiting for the sun.
About Carrie Conners
Carrie Conners, originally from West Virginia, lives in Brooklyn and works at LaGuardia CC-CUNY where she teaches creative writing, literature, and composition. Her poetry has appeared in Cider Press Review, Steel Toe Review, Aji Magazine, Unbroken Journal, RHINO, and The Monarch Review, among other publications.