Along the Six

The longest night of the year. The heat cranked as high as it can go, but there’s only so much the pitiful baseboard heaters can do against the killing wind clawing at the single pane windows. Three feet out from the wall and it’s still there, the cold, sinking its teeth into your aching bones. The swarms of Japanese beetles have died at last, their brittle, hollow bodies a crackling carpet in the corners and an inch deep in the dish of the floor lamp. Wrap yourself in every blanket you own, drag the mattress to the center of the room, pray you make it through till dawn.

Wind cold enough to freeze the breath in your nostrils. Wait, steaming, just inside the doors, for your glasses to defrost, the icicles crowding your nose, your mouth to melt. Bodies left in the snow will stay fresh for spring; the grass, brown and bitter, waits for the first rains. Once they burned these plains in summer to keep them fertile, to keep them growing, but those centuries of human care and cultivation have been swallowed by time and cold and genocide, paved over and mucked under with hog farms, corn fields, nazis.

In the town they spit at you; it rattles against the thick padding of your coat, just one more piece of windblown ice.