first snow lesson
Let me teach you about the cold:
how sometimes it mimics the thundering
of a moon-less dream.
I’ve read you can dream now, but what of that
if you’ve never tasted the air? Perhaps the womb
is aurorae dew, cradling your brain.
As I gather the last snow of February,
an orange light glitters in the crown of my palm.
For now, you are unaware, hands possess power.
Begin at the nose, or the top of a pine tree.
Numb the wind-bird as he crosses,
losing a few feathers, a bit of dust.
Your head’s a cloud, heart the sun, and in between
is winter, begging you to stay inside the body.
Am I making too glum of ice?
If I can teach you anything about this world:
mind the white cold, how it can cover up
and keep the stars indoors.
Let the birds lead you into the light.
Some days you’ll hunger to rock
in the warmth of your own blood.
Leave the ruin of your life in that bed.
Know this mother wants you to come outside
and feed her some immaculate snow.
We all freeze to heaven, crystallize every bone.
birth and the aftermath of breasts
in horsefly fields: void of flowers
void of husbands & midwives:
animal clusters gnash into labor
with those birds
who were not planted
who were not wanted
who were the mountains tipping over/
in a village of lustered stones
i left behind: a donkey & 25 chickens
& 2 sheep
& 1 widow
& the severed contractions of severed
wheat-heads, in the yellow field: until
blood in the grass: oh, cellular level;
stripes & scars: oh, skins torn & torn/
& shadows, bones: held together with strings—
in the sky, the sun & moon were a wrestling
against a skinny tree
and the moon was winning before
lights & a siren
in the horsefly fields
in the opening of the tender
(who didn’t cry to be alive)
who cracked their heads
like speckled eggs
like red clouds ready to hatch
& birth & birth, a baby again
because it’s spring; because the body is empty
because the lilac tree
lets down her purpled parts
to finger the holes we create
when a baby can’t latch
or turn a nipple into a star
NIKOLETTA NOUSIOPOULOS is a mother, wife, and poet who resides in Southeastern Connecticut. She published all the dead goats in 2010 with Little Red Tree Publishing. Some of her poetry has appeared in Tammy, Pioneertown Literary Journal, Thin Noon, Meadowland Review, and others. She is taking some time off as an adjunct professor of writing to focus on motherhood and poetry.