Sledding Out

Dogs fetch an unthrown ball
and children smash softly together.
Finches twitch in the upper branches,
antennas for the soul of winter.
I lie down rib by rib across the sled’s
hard slats and kick into the terror
of the hill. The horizon ridge
holds out an unstirred cup
of gray.

Words I’d nurtured surge
past me, faces, situations.
The glow beneath what’s spoken
ravishes like an orchid blossom
on a browning stalk. My body
disobeys me, turns brittle in
the hill’s cracks but the snow
conducts me through
its falling. I am a passenger
on its narrowing track.

The bottom drops away,
the meadow rises, the road
travels the other way.
A frozen pond stares me
toward it. I was a skater
once on its knuckled back.
In those spirals, my neck
and head angled back,
I never thought my face
would be as broken
as the figured bark of
a sugar maple tree.

Jonathan Wells‘ first collection of poems, Train Dance, was published in October 2011 by Four Way Books. His poems have been published in The New Yorker, Alaska Quarterly Review and The Paris Review Daily, among other journals.