LAKE EFFECT, by JULIE MARIE WADE
No one warned us about the snowsquall.
Leaving Pittsburgh in the sometime-after-dusk,
our pilgrimage: Nashville before dawn.
Then the snows struck, Ohio bleakening to
blizzard, the highway skirted with
stoic trees, & these—clamped in chains of icy silver.
Part of me wanted to turn back, the night peeling
off in great white sheets, our company of wayfarers
declining at rest stops & coffee shops,
succumbing to the season’s incumbent storm.
But we pushed forward: for the holidays, for the family
waiting to greet us, then pretend we had never been born.
And as the world iced over slowly, as the road unfolded before us
only to rescind its kindness—to shimmer the unspoken malice
of a deep & interminable freeze—I thanked the landscape
for its insight, foreshadowing our future: how we could make
the clouds roll in with a single crooked gesture; how we could kiss
& shatter the crystalline skies. And how, above all, we dared
not ask for affirmation, or the faces like garden statues once
rimmed with leaves & birds would crack & jaundice, the
whole gathering of merry angels shrivel & dash to stone.
Julie Marie Wade is the author of ten volumes of poetry and prose as well as the recently released lyric essay collection, Just an Ordinary Woman Breathing (Ohio State University Press, 2020). A recipient of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir and grants from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, she teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University and reviews regularly for Lambda Literary Review and The Rumpus. Julie is married to Angie Griffin and lives in Dania Beach.