Friday, September 08, 2017

The Properties of Dust: First Snow

Scenic Traffic Corridor
Historic Columbia River Highway. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Oregon. January 3, 2014
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved


The frost is thick upon the once dark ground as I look out the misty window. My reflection stares back at me from those panes and it looks different than the face held tight in my mind. Perhaps it is just that the glass is clouded and that the frost is too heavy on the earth outside. There is an uncertainty in my heart that leads me from the window to the lavatory’s mirror. The mirror shows me the same face as the window. It is mine but it is not mine, so I go back to my seat. I return to the window.


“So, how do you think it went?”
“With your Mom. How do you think it, you know?”
“Just fine? That doesn’t sound so good.”
“I’m reading. Can we talk later?”
“Later? Like, after you’re done reading? Or later when we get home? Or do you mean some time that never happens?”
“Just not here now... When we’re alone.”
“No one’s listening. If they are, who cares? It’s not like... Whatever, just keep reading.”
“I will.”
“I don’t see how you can do that without getting sick. I couldn’t do that without getting sick. I couldn’t, not with all the rocking, the clacking, all the shaking.”
“That’s you, not me.”
“I know. Of course.”
“Later. I promise.”
“What’s so interesting in there anyway?”
“Portfolio Diversification in the Post-Boom Economy.”
“It pays our bills. Helps secure our future.”
“You could just let me know what she said to you last night.”
“I know she said something.”
“You didn’t tell her, did you?”
“It wasn’t that she didn’t say anything. I know how she is like that. I’ve learned where you get that from. But I knew it didn’t happen. You didn’t tell her. I didn’t expect you to, really.”
“It just... It wasn’t the right time.”
“She’ll find out. She’ll see me again at Christmas. She’ll be able to tell by then.”
“Then we’ll tell her. Then, if not by then.”
“Or she’ll just look at me and know. Shit. It must have been classic.”
“What’s that?”
“What she said.”
“She... It wasn’t like that. No. She just needs more time to get to know you, that’s all.”
“Am I still... Fuck it. Nevermind.”
“I told you that she apologized for saying that.”
“It doesn’t matter anyway.”
“Of course it does.”
“I’d just like to get it over with... Whatever. Sorry. It’s been a long week.”
“It has.”
“Look out there. The snow. It’s really coming down now.”
“I know. It’s so early. It’s too early for that.”
“It isn’t, though. Not really.”
“It just seems that way to me.”
“I saw that picture of you. In the pilgrim outfit, playing in the snow? What were you, about six or seven then?”
“Seven. But that was a long time ago, before Dad moved us out here. I can’t remember snow this early here. Lots of storms, though. Wind and rain. Eating cold leftovers around the fire, after the power blew down. But no snow.”
“That sounds nice.”
“I guess so. Maybe later we should light a fire. Sit around with some candles?”
“I’d like that. We can talk then, when no one is around to listen.”
“Not about Mom, though. There’s nothing to say about her, anyway.”
“She didn’t say anything, did she? I was just being... Wasn’t I?”
“No. Not as such... She has a ways to go. She’ll be fine, though. We’ll be fine. We should just forget her.
“That’s what I try to do.”
“We’re almost home.
“That sounds perfect. I just want to lay here and hold you until we get there.”


As she snuggled in against me, I stared out the window, watching the large blank flakes blowing past us. I tapped the magazine against my leg but I knew I was done reading for the trip, trying to think of nothing until we were home and I was holding her tight before the fire, forgetting everything in the world except for the silent void, momentary and brief, spent watching a random flake sticking to the glass and melting.

Seattle, 1996

The Properties of Dust was a small book I put together in 2005 for a desktop publishing class at Portland State University. Many of these pieces were written specifically for the book project, and the rest date back to as early as 1990. The pieces were accompanied by a photo or two in the original book, but, in most cases, I am using different, more recent, photos with this series of posts.



First Snow
Antarctic Whispers
Bedtime Prayer

The Red Car
Something Lost
After the War

Love Poems

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