When I Had That Choice

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.

Those mornings
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.


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