41st & Ninth, SW Corner, 26 Degrees F

Fingernails turning blue again,
you remind yourself in a few months
this will be just another moment
on just another corner
in just another winter you reference.

Of all there will one day be
a cure for,
this isn’t on the list, this
quick catch of breath in the chest
as you glance up the avenue,
waiting for the light
to change. And always, the clock
watches with its nonchalant eye.

Rules don’t apply in this river-chilled
here and now, when you feel it down
to the pointed tips
of your boots, when snow falls fine
like a pretty girl’s
ash, when you should be marking
something on your recollection chart.

You know your fear
is wrapped in the vine
of things you wish
your mother taught you,
but that doesn’t make it easier
to cut your way through to what
you can’t see.

But how to measure anything
when every morning is February-strange, like
another new beginning of someone else’s
new life, like you
just dug up some frozen
root vegetable of a heart?

Jess Cording’s work has appeared under several names in various print and online publications, most recently Extracts, Knocking at the Door: Poems About Approaching the Other, Whistling Fire,  Squid Quarterly, and the Otter Tail Review. She lives, works, and writes in New York City.