Aurora Borealis Spawned, I pummel down
the earth to lash at leaning cabins containing
wool wrapped and frail old men who I
glimpse inside their glowing glass as I
through shadowed valleys fly. Split their posts.
Gel their seeping blue orbs. Fissure their fingers.
Malevolent I rush and rage, crash
into frames of hacked-down hardwood,
mud stuck and stacked, creaking in
icicle cold and strange in my sight.
See these creatures crystallized in pain,
agonized in frost. Blue stained and stilled.
She had it so hot sweat dripped
down to stain the accounts on my
blue-lined balance sheets.
She wanted the children to be warm.
She stoked the stove till it glowed
brimstone red in the darkened void.
By morning, tattered muslin that filled
the door’s gap to keep the frigid fingers back
had frozen to the plank-wood floor.
Six steers gathered near the door with
tails snaked and warped to frozen flanks
as if popped from life-sized plasticine molds.
My teeth always dented Sam’s coins.
He’d enter my bed like a knight
conquering new lands, in righteous fervor.
Tonight he creeps in, shuffles sheets
penetrates my cocoon of heat
his toes a jolt of thrilling cold.
My mother’s dead. Choking,
her red speckled rags stain my vision
of Him slipping into this four post bed.
Blinding wind and snow kept him in my
room all night. I couldn’t stand the stench
of his fetid breath or the glow of his eyes.
Daddy stepped off the back porch
in his mackinaw and muffler and
into a whirling white wall.
He took four steps, I counted his
foot prints, before they seeped
back into that tempting white world.
I wanted to lick the flakes like paper cut
outs we’d made in the schoolhouse
glowing red against the greyed-out foothills.
In blue morning light, daddy’s hands rigid
inside his cross stitch mittens gripped a split
corral post as if in submission to Northern Gods.
His frozen face tilted up to heaven.
His iced wide eyeballs pleading.
His offering frost and snot-sicles.
Mike L. Nichols is a graduate of Idaho State University and a recipient of the Ford Swetnam Poetry Prize. He lives and writes in Eastern Idaho. Look for his poetry in Rogue Agent, Tattoo Highway, Ink&Nebula, Rat’s Ass Review, Plainsongs Magazine, and elsewhere. Find more at mikenicholsauthor.com