A fleeting temperature of lukewarmth

that prompts orange scarves

to appear. Pink nose ducked

inside to smell cotton smoke—

taken away by eager Winter.

Cinnamon coughs line jazz

interludes. Apples that kiss caramel in a way that hurts

your teeth; food is everywhere. Holidays

sewn together with bad after-tastes of

old failures. Crusty gloves.

Relatives and friends you don’t even know but they

still want to squeeze you in their arms as if

you haven’t changed. Grandma Don who still believes

that you are five years old. Tommy’s mustard armchair,

empty and drawing questions since he left last Thanksgiving. Tears.

Homemade soup with sliced carrots

offered by wrinkled hands over wrapped

porches. Fur socks fitted under big shoes

that boom on floors but make your legs

feel small. Funerals.

Coats turning people into bears. Oversized ones

that swallow you up with a pinewood smell that’s not

yours. Frost-rigid fists snuggling pockets

as if there will be hands inside

to hold. Solemn anniversaries.

A.R. Hansen

Author of Battle of the Mind