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Because we are outlaws, where you take me this night
the moon has no face, its surface smooth
as the snow shaping the hills and valley
outside the car. We park off a road rarely traveled
this time of year. Dark pines and thin silvery trees
throw shadows on your face lowering to meet mine;
we make love, wrapped in heavy coats,
knees bumping glove box and seatback.
But still we can see each other clearly, moonlight
everywhere, hitting snow, the chrome of fender and door.
From within this blinding whiteness I think
we are as perfect as the landscape that contains us.
Those mornings when we woke together
it was always snowing. The flakes fell thick
and silent to white ground.
That’s the only color I remember: white
smoke between us in dark bars, white flicker
of t.v. in off-season motels, the white knot of our hands
beneath tables, across car seats,
our bodies close and white in the clandestine
places we met all winter.
It’s an old story: two people belonging to others.
New feelings covered us the way
trees weighted with fresh snow become beautiful.
And though we knew the year’s whiteness would disappear,
giving way to spring’s yellows and greens,
we imagined even that difference
as a gift to us from the world. We imagined those colors
withheld till they grew tired of hiding, as we did.
But people aren’t trees waiting for warmer
weather to bring back the shape of leaves and branches.
Only we can change our lives. We need to want, then
do; or else remain like passive objects in landscape:
cold; for a time less cold; and finally, cold again.
From King of the Fireflies (Sensitive Skin, 2018) by Rebecca Weiner Tompkins. Copyright 2018 Rebecca Weiner Tompkins
Tompkins is a poet and violinist who divides her time between New York and Nashville.