Elegy for Snow & a Self on a Day that Did Not Belong to Her
Imagine your stepdad as a boy in the snow—
15 inches, he says, in Texas.
You try to imagine yourself waist-deep
& hungry, but you can’t.
It is not your memory,
the way Syrinx was never Pan’s,
but a story told by a distant man,
the way wind speaks through river reeds.
Those reeds, your stepfather’s hands
as he swears 15 years later, he & his first family
survived 15 inches of snow again.
We didn’t have heat, we almost died, he says.
That year, snow camouflaged the rural highway,
left only the top inch of the barbed fence.
No one dared the highway until
an egg delivery truck ditched itself. A loss,
the driver said. A loss. Take everything—
so they did. Your stepfather & his other daughter.
They bundled eggs in shirts & hats,
in pockets of pants, filled coats of eggs,
& wheelbarrows of eggs.
You try to imagine your stepfather
pushing you in that red wheelbarrow—
beside, beneath, above so much breakable flesh—
but you can’t. The breakable thing touching you
has always been your own skin.
On that day, they threw egg snowballs
unafraid of breaking.
They tongued yolk popsicles
& smacked lips covered in yolk chapstick.
Frostbit & shivering, even the deer’s mouths
& hooves turned into eggs.
Your stepfather reached for his shotgun but the shells
were eggs; he fired anyway.
The deer’s eyes colossal as eggs.
That night, your stepfather fisted egg whiskey cups
as a family swore yolk blood oaths
to always stay the same.
It was that kind of day,
a day that encouraged you to promise everything.
That year, the snow took everything—
the doorless barn, the ravine, the hopscotch board
belonging to that other daughter.
Nothing else could be salvaged but instinct.
Safe in your stepfather’s arms,
that other daughter navigated a new world
when accident reclaimed survival—
imagine, a snowed-invisible highway
& a ditched egg truck might have saved a family—
temporarily, when swearing to stay meant
you were honor-bound to leave—
but we can’t speak of accident without speaking of birth—
It happened to your stepfather & his other daughter.
It did not snow in Texas today.
By Kara Dorris
I recently graduated with a PhD in literature and poetry at the University of North Texas. My poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Tusculum Review, Harpur Palate, Cutbank, The Tulane Review, and Crazyhorse, among others literary journals, as well as the anthology Beauty is a Verb (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Dancing Girl Press published my chapbook, Elective Affinities, in 2011. My second chapbook, Night Ride Home, was published by Finishing Line Press, in 2012. I am also the editor of Lingerpost, an online poetry journal.