I wander
Beneath the dispassionate gaze
Of streetlights
Their incandescent regard
Freckled with snow

I don’t remember
This cold, this dark
These indifferent drifts
(And why do I keep expecting sand?)
Though the single set of footprints
(Altamas, military issue, size 12)
Assures me
I have come this way

There is a glow up ahead
Our house, I think,
Though I cannot recall
Who would share a home with me;
Am vaguely surprised to realize
I have one

You greet me at the door
Scissors shaking in your hand
(Gardening shears, to be exact,
but what blooms in the dead of winter?)
Fear etched on your face
Like a fingernail drawing
On a frosted window pane

I try to shoulder my way past you
(What is your name?)
Into our home—my home –
And you jab wildly at me
Slicing the collar of my peacoat
Nicking my neck

I reach up
Both of us shocked
When my hand comes away bloody
(I see now
not all of it is new)

I reach down
Into my pocket
For a handkerchief
And find instead a semi-automatic
(9 mm Beretta; a piece of shit
but not the first
I’ve encountered tonight)

I pull it out and point it
At your frigid, frostbit heart
(But not so icy when I found you
riding him and laughing
though flat-on-your-back missionary
was all you’d ever do
for me)

This is how you wait for me?
This is my homecoming?
What was I fighting for
If not to come back to your embrace?
Only to find your arms already filled
First with his body
Then with his corpse

You scream and cry
Tell me the police are on their way
(We both know if they
could get through the storm
they’d have been here by now)
But you do not beg
You still have that much respect for me
At least

You say I’ll be court-martialed
Sent to prison
But I just shrug
(It’s not like there’s anything
out here for me now
Inshallah, I say
And pull the trigger

Your chest explodes
In a crimson shower
(I watch, incurious
as tiny red buds blossom
across pale flesh and navy wool;
a sudden garden
unexpectedly warm)
And I remember, then
What blooms in winter

Christmas roses
And you

# # #

What Blooms In Winter by Marsheila Rockwell
originally published in the Winter 2011 print edition



Marsheila Rockwell is a Rhysling-nominated poet and a member of the SFPA, SFWA and IAMTW. In addition to serving as a poetry editor for Mindflights, she has authored two novels for Wizards of the Coast—Legacy of Wolves, 2007, and The Shard Axe, due out in September 2011—and is contracted for a third. A (fairly) complete list of her publication credits can be found at www.marsheilarockwell.com/.

For more of Marsheila's work,
visit her Big Pulp author page


This feature and more great
fiction & poetry are available in
Big Pulp Winter 2011:
Interrogate My Heart Instead

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