Cold Snap · Josh Nicolaisen

For almost two weeks, the kind of days
where even when the sun shines it can
be hard to be outside, and even in here
ice is building up inside of our windows.

The windows plucking the woodstove’s warmth
which feels sucked right out the walls . The smoke
floats above the chimney, not really rising,
as if trying to decide if it should dive back down.

Outside the hair on my face frosts almost
immediately, and inside of trees the water
and sap snap and crack so loudly
I look up to see if they’ll fall.

The snow has stacked up, squeaking snow,
the kind that falls so finely it feels like styrofoam
and almost sounds alive when you walk, letting
out little creaks and moans beneath the steps of feet.

Our animals’ water keeps freezing, even in heated
electric buckets; thoughts wondering between how
many animals in the wild won’t make it through this one and
the hen with a bloody frostbitten comb in our basement.

The cars’ engines slowly turn over,
unhappy to be woken, and only sometimes
starting- same with the snow blower.
Schools have been cancelling because their busses won’t run.

It’s called a snap because eventually it breaks, but today
the snow shovel’s brittle plastic breaks on the first scoop,
the hen in our basement died last night, and tonight
is set to be the coldest one yet.


Josh Nicolaisen taught English for twelve years. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife, Sara, and their daughters, Grace and Azalea. His poems have recently appeared in So It Goes, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Writers Resist, Centripetal, The Poets of New England: Volume 1 (Underground Writers Association), and Indolent Books' online project, What Rough Beast.