Coming Home in the Winter of 1994

Construction paper snowflakes fall off of classroom windows
like leaves from trees in autumn. Each snowflake melts
as it reaches the concrete ground. Buried
underneath a black woolen coat and red hat,
scarf and gloves, I appear rotund. Heavy
thuds of windows finding their sills grow fainter as I move away
from the red brick school building, rubbing frozen hands together
as I taste the bitter winds. I breathe in the sharp odor
of now stale cafeteria food seeping out of the grate
that I pass on my way home, its stench pressing heavily down
on me. St. Catherine of Genoa School is now a block away,
yet I can still see the snowflakes as they lay on the ground.
The freezing wind stills once I walk pass the cemetery,
and I’m chilling like a villain the rest of the way home.

As I reach my building, Tai tells her mother she is home,
as she will do for the next three years,
until she has her own set of keys. I enter the grainy hallway
and make my way to the living room. I am chilled to the bone,
the cold so deep my fingers and toes burn.
Lakay se kote ou mete tèt ou
The living room rug wraps itself around my cold feet until the numbness
melts away like snowflakes on an autumn day.

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