First it begins with those most outward of places –
fingertips, toes, nipples, tip of nose.
By January I have become accustomed to a fetal position,
curled, like a cat, by the radiator, craving warmth,
which I begin to mistake for love.
When the chill wind howls and night descends, batlike,
I brew tea, at least five cups a day to keep me going.
Now it runs in my veins, a better comfort than blood.
All night long I burn blue. I blaze cobalt, steel, mineral.
The sun mocks openly. The curve of her smile
glinting off the snow is just the angle of derision.
I am not as strong as a tree, nor can I freeze over
like a lake, protecting the life that teems underneath.
As the evenings draw in, I read the Russians,
feeling how wretched I am, how poor!
When the pipes freeze, at last I know
neither love nor down can save me.