Summer Cold Front

The two moons of our headlights focus ahead on the warm summer highway, one we've never traveled. In an unmarked curve, beams of the full eye above hang like icicles as we come to the only house where snow is falling, the lawn is white, and the roof is buried nearly to the chimney top. Nothing but shadows drift across this freezing place.

An optical illusion, I say. The chimney breathes not a smoke signal or spark to show that someone is tending fire.

We slow down but keep idling homeward where ours is the only sweating house, where our porch light burns darkness and cold away, where windows are closed to heat waves and freezes, yet even conditioned air is always near the boiling point, and there is a draft with fingers of ice.

Here in our car slowed by a sudden freeze in an alien neighborhood, a single puff rises from the snowcapped chimney as if someone has given up the ghost. We look at one another and get homesick.

You who have never been cold turn your head and shiver, turn off the air conditioner, glance back at the snow light drifting further behind us, and sigh: Who chooses to live and die in bitter cold? Maybe they can't take the heat.

I break out in cold sweat, see white flakes of light coming down in the direction of home. Even ice can burn, I recall, stepping on the gas, changing the weather.

—first published in Ghost City Review