Winter 1958

On the inn table, his coffee cup steams.
Beside it, a few flakes of tobacco slides
from his pipe. Next to it, the window
holds a slice of frost, and outside,
the winter wind blows light flurries
northwest across the lake.

I’m a boy watching the wind
and snow imitate skaters dancing.
In their wake, they leave spiral-
shaped nines. My father returns
from another trip to the fireplace.
He brought me a gift, the perfume
of burning wood.

Perhaps I’m inventing this,
not him, his coffee, or his pipe
but his gift — the mysterious giving of self.
Maybe we met somewhere centuries
before my birth in another icy landscape.
Then we met again and looked
at each other as he named me.

As it rides the eddies and waves of breath,
a name is unable to hold anything in place
and knocks on the door crying, “Let me in,”
like the wind brushing pine needles
against storm windows.