Larry's lips form a circle as he blows
a smoke ring into Keleigh's pasty grey
face. Coughing, she opens the window a crack
to breath in the frosty air. It is winter
although no snow has yet fallen.
Larry's bright eyes dance with a song
playing on the radio. "What the name of that song?"
he says. Kel shrugs, "Give me a puff; quit blowing
dry air at me and give." Her resolve has fallen,
like her grades and her hopes, into a grey
pulp of ashes. She looks out the window into the wintry
sky. She feels as if her heart will crack
like a pumpkin after Halloween, crack
like her voice when she sings a song
that's too high, crack like the first ice in winter
when she steps gingerly on its glass. Blown,
Keleigh has blown her chances. When she's grey-
haired and wrinkled, she'll look back on this fallen
day and ache like a mother bird whose chick has fallen
out of the nest, too young to fly. The shell cracked
but the wings still folded. Its only hope is its grey
plumage to cammoflage it in the dirt. No song
sings from bird's beak or woman's heart. No blowing
winds of hope lift either spirit. It is winter.
Larry hands her the pipe, "Here's your woolie, you winter-
strawberry." Keleigh cradles the pipe, looks at her weightless, fallen
man. Abruptly she wants neither the screw nor the crack. "Blow
it yourself; I don't want your Love," she says with a voice that cracks.
"Bitch," he breathes and turns up the radio. Wainwright sings a song
while strumming his guitar, in his nasal twang, "When it's grey
in L.A., I sure like it that way..." "Effing country, all gloom and grey
music, that sh..." Larry starts, but looks at Kel glowing in winter
white shimmer, winter white glory. Humming a new song.
"What the hell...", but his voice whiskers away, falls
into silence, like snowflakes at night. He cracks
his pipe on the counter, sneers, then takes one more blow.
Each bird sings its own song, flies on its own grey wings.
Battered by the blows of wind and the bitter breath of winter,
the timid become lost. Fallen feathers sift between the cracks.