Cold Country

We slept in rooms that were but thin
partitions against the cold— bare
wood, tin roofs, and with our coats
unlined; yet we had no word for winter
in our dictionary. That year I learned
to eat fermented things, learned to drink
coffee sweetened with sugar, lightened with milk
from a can. No children had come yet but I knew
the press of stones against the swelling riverbank,
the shale that cut through loam. I divined then
what the herbalist meant when she whispered
as her hands worked to massage the chill
out of my limbs: There is a space beneath
the ribs where hearth stones lie close
to rub against each other— take care
their heat does not go out.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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