The Snow Angel

by Laurie Byro
Babilu
Third Place, May 2014
Judged by R.T. Castleberry


My father, who dies on the longest night of the year, returns
a month later, somehow fifty three years old, a wild-eyed charmer,
to tell me that the dead aren’t worrying about the living, that

each snow flake falling, is a wish spoken before it hits the earth.
I am half awake, I rub my eyes. He stamps the porch, begging
for a decent cup of coffee, saying he has no rest for all those wishes,

no sleep for all those mad-rushes to pull us safely
to the curb. I am skeptical. I hand him his coffee: milk, no sugar.
He has that sheepish grin, that wolf-sure twinkle. “Tell me

you aren’t disappointed dad, show me how you know
it’s all ok.” He guffaws his coffee. “I would sleep like the dead.
Instead, I have dervis-toddlers, toothless men. Mostly I have you.

Lighten up, they say, winter’s my busy season.” I blink, his cup
is empty, I was about to make us tea. His shoes wait by his empty bed,
good-will is coming next month. Each day I walk through a forest

with somebody’s name carved on a tree. All winter, during long
feathery nights, wishes swirl round the house, falling
on the neighborhood, on the chimneys while we sleep.


A late night ghostly appearance by a recently deceased parent could be the signal for angst and recriminations, tears and turmoil. In “The Snow Angel” it becomes a wistfully funny visitation by a busy, thirsty dad checking on his kid-- “My father, who dies on the longest night of the year, returns/a month later, somehow fifty three years old…”, to explain why he’s been gone, “he has no rest for all those wishes,/no sleep for all those mad-rushes to pull us safely/to the curb.” They have a cheerful, consoling chat over coffee and the father is gone, back to working wishes—“during long/ feathery nights, wishes swirl round the house, falling/on the neighborhood, on the chimneys while we sleep.” --R.T. Castleberry

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