At the New Moon Café as spring
began to tempt him, Alvy
told me it was time
to leave Vermont. He left
often in spring, but would
return by autumn, always before
snow greased the roads.
That morning on his faded map
Alvy pointed to the blue
circle around Winnipeg, eager
to find trouble, or pleasure

anyone might find
along the way. Now a year later
a letter arrives
in late April, only
one page in elegant
cursive. He used a fountain pen, blue
ink; white paper, a barn owl stamp.
He is content; does not mention
any return in a near
future that is nothing more
to Alvy than a blurry past.

In Winnipeg, Alberta
the Red River and Assiniboine River
fork near the longitudinal
center of North America. The Cree
called the nearby lake win-nipi or win-nipy –
muddy or murky water. Winnipeg
can be burning cold in winter.
In wet summers, Winnipeg
is often blistering humid. I read
this yesterday at the Bear Pond bookstore
here in Montpelier. It’s easy

to imagine Alvy cordial
near the center of North America.

I hope I will write back.

Michael Carrino is a retired lecturer in the English department at SUNY Plattsburgh. He was co-founder and poetry editor of the Saranac Review. He has had eight books of poetry published as well as many individual poems in numerous literary journals.