Raw

Walking through the cold, my hands are icy like dead leaves which crackle in the frost underneath the parent tree. They feel painfully elongated and bony, and my joints detonate with icy jabs as I move my fingers, one by one like tentacles. They alone are cold while the rest of my body is warm and soft, wrapped deep in wool and thought.

The night is dark and hushed, with street lights interspersed like fallen prayer beads in the street, spreading small pools of light which are quickly swallowed up by the emptiness. A television blares from a house while I walk by, a woman locks her door coming home from the late shift, lone Christmas decorations sparkle forlornly and reflect from the dew covered but not yet frozen grass.

My hands are brittle like glass and I turn them over to stare thoughtfully at the palms.

Home is lit up expectantly waiting and I am quietly slipping my shoes off in the hallway so that I do not wake the sleepers, if there are any, dropping my keys on the floor with a loud clatter and realizing that I left my book on the table along with the bus transfer that I could not find when I needed it. I open the fridge for water and realize that I am viciously hungry and suddenly filled with a longing for something greasy, salty, hot.

When I undress to bathe, I smell like musk, coffee, coconut milk, and salt. I leave my earrings in and do not realize it until the warm shower water dances down them, causing the fine metal filaments to vibrate. My hands shoot with stabbing pains in the sudden warmth, and I sigh with that mingled sensation of pain and release, pleasure and acute agony.

It is an odd fact that if you thaw frostbite too quickly, it can cause severe damage. Ice must be slowly warmed away with cool and lukewarm water, not unfrozen all at once. The human body, it is said, is not susceptible to permafrost.

But what about the soul?

Sometimes in the spring in Vermont, the trees would get overexcited and start to thaw before it was time, and the long trails of water would freeze there in the night, gossamer whispers of ice that would thaw away in the splintery morning light. Sometimes I would run across the snow in the middle of the night and break the threads which would tinkle like cocktail glasses at a party behind me.

I hear the shivering which presages the melting of the rivers, and I am afraid.