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Self-portrait with black ice

Caroline Murphy

it’s January again and I’m still

picking pieces of you out of my hair  

like shattered glass after a car crash. 

the cold convinces me your voice

won’t turn to ice the minute

it hears I’m back in town. 

the town I never really left says

I learned how to thaw but not

how to keep from freezing. 

the thing about winter is it never

pretends to be warm, by which I mean

the only truly honest place

I’ve ever known is buried

under twenty inches every year

and refuses to be dug out. 

I like to imagine you roaming the streets

naming avenues and boulevards 

after your own daydreams

instead of my imagined nightmares.

you’re at home here, which is all

I ever really needed. someday

I’ll get on a plane, and someday

you won’t be there when I arrive. 

winter will come each year as promised

and I’ll walk the streets alone

having no idea what you call them now. 

Caroline Murphy graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington in 2015 and spent the last four years teaching English in western Bulgaria. She currently lives and writes in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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