In the beginning was snow, fluffy and colored
like cabbage. Pale green leaves of light
folded in toward the ground.
We who were from nowhere
changed zip codes often, moving
into uncertain weather. The sameness of change
never ceased to astound us. Blocks away,
the American Ice Company’s red bricks
melted to white. It was possible to believe
a whole city’s snow came from inside.
Sidewalks turned into tightropes. The sky waited.
We all had something we’d rather stayed buried.
We all had something staked on the thaw.
One morning, the mailbox backed up
with forwards, which overflowed
down the steps. We’d been located by names
that chapped our lips when we said them.
Ice hung from the gutters of the art museum
like sculptures. People paid to stay outside.
Shovels made soft sweeps, brushes
across the unalterable, as men poured salt
to our doorstep, a great evaporated sea.
The papers tallied up deaths
and reported freezing was variable.
In Houston, people start dying
when the temperature drops below thirty,
while in Anchorage, death starts
at minus five. We had become
the midpoint of a mortal geography.