The winter of el niño
snowed stayed on the ground for weeks
receding from bright drifts
to desiccated lengths in ditches,
reddish brown stains leeching from the soil:
giant bloody bandages
stretched out and drying before the next wound appeared.
I wanted to drive on,
until the falling snow became
fat liquid drops squishing on the windshield,
until the icy fog turned warm,
until I could smell the salt in the air,
air that stayed warm
even in the winter of el niño.
But in that winter of el niño
when I had that choice
between cold or hot
between snow or warm humid air,
between the known and what I wanted to learn,
I chose what I knew,
understanding that eventually
those bandages would be for me.