Boston to the Bay-Day 4

April 14, 2014  Omaha, Nebraska 12:24 AM  

Just as Houston has no fall, many places have no spring.  Western Iowa and Nebraska are covered in snow.  The wind whips and swirls with ice.

Iowa was rainy and cloudy, pleasant weather to accompany a backwoods train trip.  Despite being encapsulated in a bubble careening forward at 70 miles per hour, you and the residents watch the rain fall together.  However small, there is a connection, an abstract coziness making you feel as if you lived at least one afternoon in this state.

Speaking of the Midwest, nearly every town seems to be mired in decay.  Old billowing factories give labored heaves of stale smoke breath.

Somehow there’s still life and wood-frame houses.  People cling to the life they’ve known.  There’s a forlorn, despondent warmth that forces you to respect the integrity of a people willing to suffer through winter and weather the storm of deindustrialization.  Paradoxically, these people seem to have it right, an anthropological “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude that preserves family and customs.

April 14, 2014 Might as well be January 2014–6:22 AM Akron, Colorado

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I woke up after a few hours of restless sleep.  The sun is hiding, but has left a brilliant pink remnant in the distance.  The kind of glimmer that must help the poor people of the Dakotas or Alaska get through dark, cold days.  It is white for infinity.  Little thickets of grass defiantly poke their heads out their blanket as if to say, “Is it morning yet?”.  The cold and the wind softly murmur “no”.

The West was supposed to spell promise, but all I see is snow-covered farmland.  I knew that eastern Colorado was this way, but, selfishly, I expected the weather to bow down to my schedule.

The flat land is slowly giving way to a few upstart rocky inclines.  Behind me, the sun has put its foot down and has finally broke through the tangled web of clouds that have chased our train since Indiana.

A few cows graze over the snow, taking the annoying white impediment in stride.  There isn’t much a grazing cow doesn’t take in stride.  Man has transformed this beast to a stoic machine.

You Must Go Through Winter to Understand

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The mornings begin to dip below freezing.  Street traffic slows.  Doors open and close.  The wind is faint, unwilling to wake.

I’m compelled to sit.  Desperation takes hold.  Accompanied only by the dim light of a cheap lamp and scattered photographs of places, people I used to know.

The trees are dull, the sky is low.  I’m so damn numb.  My hands are cracked, my inspiration is sapped.  Damn this winter, damn this town.

Outside, the snow falls in a steady, icy spray.  A bird alights onto my window sill, peers inside and flutters away.

Squeezing, strangling.  Winter grips trees, captures squirrels, and shoos birds away one by one until all that’s left are solitary pigeons.

Hardly awake, the masses slog through a rite of passage.  This frozen, lifeless land speaks no joys, only sorrow fills the cold, lifeless air.

Why would anyone stay?

And then it hits me.

You must go through winter to understand.

White noise falling all around,

Soft flakes of time coming down,

Falling, sticking, staying, leaving,

Clouds moving, weaving,

Meaning only found in their coming and going,

The dirty, frozen pond,

Nothing flowing,

The dirty, frozen city,

No one coming, no one going,

You must go through winter to understand,

Whispers of snow out your window,

Snow flakes piling high,

The drudgery of bundling up,

The aimless trudge,

The slippery sludge,

The stench of an overused coat,

A damp front porch,

The flicker of a dying torch,

You must go through winter to understand,

Clenched jaws,

Frozen eyes burning, twitching,

The numbing sensation of gloves,

The heater’s caress,

The unwillingness to undress,

Memories of sunlight, friends, family,

Good times come and gone,

You must go through winter to understand,

The convergence of days,

Time slipping away,

Stripped, bare trees,

The fear that time itself will freeze,

The quiet,

The restless slumber,

You must go through winter to understand,

The still of dawn,

The winds of change long gone,

An old folk song,

The need for others,

Missing my brothers,

You must go through winter to understand,

The thirst for sun,

The urge to run,

The need for mountains,

The thirst for flowing fountains,

You must go through winter to understand,

The mirage of white sand,

Tunnel visions of spring,

Wondering what that might bring,

You must go through winter to understand,

The slow melt,

The loneliness I once felt,

You must go through winter to understand,

Life first-hand.