Remember how we left the kitchen warm
to high-step through the falling snow;
the call from school coming hours ago.
How we knew that fine red line would form on our shins where the boots rubbed,
but still we floated through that feathery, sallow sand
to meet the neighbor-boy who hiked a mile up the hill
with his eyelashes stuck together
and his joyous face chapped and numb with exultant cold.
Spirits of the dead soared and sunk repeatedly
when we built the network of tunneled snow
from which to hide and then fly through the air on our sleds;
adrenalin and joy stronger than hunger.
Yet a lunch deferred awaited us in the kitchen,
like childhood revisits the adult;
hot chocolate and tomato soup lingered on the table for discovery,
grilled cheese expecting to thaw our mouths.
Then banana bread of course,
before we were obliged to send the neighbor-boy back down the hill
ahead of the early darkness.
Where he would see in the fading light
a pair of barn owls splitting the air silently above his head
and those frozen stars of white
would cling to our names forever.