Last winter was our sleepless recollection
through the lanes a breath drawn in and paved over before exhalation came
clicking in the frozen leaves a song that someone used to sing after the rain,
so many voices now it doesn’t matter
Breathe clouds against the morning
spit craters in the frost
the cold shakes visions till they wake up sullen and confused,
blinking at stark outlines in the distance
We bargained hard and bought our euphemisms used from
woodsmoke blushing out a stubborn suburb chimney
this is rust and earth (or smirk and say)
I know November
I know December
ravines close their throats against the past
hands plunge into swamplands balanced on the torn-up railway tracks
There is no November
There is no December
You’ll never get it back

We’ll hide out in the creeks before they disappear under our mortgaged houses
we’ll sit in well lit rooms and contemplate the death of tall sharp grass that stung our sunburnt legs,
the crickets that would rub their feet against the dusk or dogs still barking in the valley,
the way we scratched our sweaty toes against the tent wall, camped out in the backyard,
ignorant of the weapons we contained
This is November
This is December
Or days that die the same

We’ll learn to love the stale warmth of tunnels in the storms,
we’ll walk our dogs in tight leashes through the musty smell of cardboard
and with fog like concrete in the lungs we remember stones inside our rolled-up pantlegs,
the muffled clap of feet on icy water or the tepid shiver of our sanctuaries lost amidst the sacred things
Dredge the fields left in November
Eat the scraps from our December
Then choke on roots and wings

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Gavin Smith is a Canadian Studies major at the University of British Columbia.