Roberta Feins

Cleveland, late March

Winter still, the kind of winter
    bored with itself. Snow
remains in patches, covered in soot,
    surfaces frozen refrozen
into pock-marked features—
    Styrofoam or stuffing
    from tiny mutilated animals.

We wash our hands before reentering the house.

The driveway's mounded edge
    evokes crouching
    grotesques: gnomes
in lumpy black and white costume.
    They reveal a ragged,
unforgiving world outlined in ice,
    glittering ground glass.

Surviving tree-trunks stand
    shocked still by cold
hard silhouettes softened by moss
    as cancer softens, wastes
    a man before he succumbs.
They will not lie down in thick mounds
    but whip their twigs,
    more tattered
than the snipped black ribbon I wear.

We buried my uncle next to his two sons.

Next month,
    twigs will bud out
roots nourished by the rotting
    of last season's green.

Roberta Feins

ROBERTA FEINS received her MFA in poetry in 2007 from New England College. Her poems have been published in Five AM, Antioch Review, The Cortland Review and The Gettysburg Review, among others. Her chapbook, Something Like a River, was published by Moon Path Press in 2013. Roberta edits the e-zine Switched On Gutenberg (

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