heat sweated through the walls.
My refuge was the space below the ceiling fan.
little veins of ice crackled along windows;
we woke every morning to toes on cold hardwood.
We preserved warmth–
heavy curtains, clunking radiators,
staying together in rooms with the warmest light.
There was a windowseat of dark oak in my parents’ room,
too cold to sit in.
The plate window let in light and cold air.
Next to it was a fireplace,
wider than my father was tall.
Full of brass and logs and it smelled like wood and dust and old things.
I love that smell.
On dim days when smokey clouds hang low on tree tops,
we would sit in front of the fire for hours.
“Never sit so close that you touch the brick”
but every time I turned I inched closer,
toes tucked into the boundary between the last wood plank and the
too warm brick.
I could only warm one side at a time,
still until my front-roasted,
just shy of burning,
blanket on my back, cold air lingering.
A the end of winter I was glad to be outside,
to see green and blue
and to dig toes into new, dark earth,
just to smell sweet loam.
Yet, as the sun lengthened,
sometimes I would creep back inside,
to cool brick and dark logs,
looking up the chimney,
missing the fire.