Boots were all we had in winter, Wellingtons made of a slice of rubber; Turned down to show initials, That bled upon the snow. Between skin and cold, Coarse wollen socks, Sometimes they matched, They'd criss and cross.
In from the boys' yard, The slide and frost, The boots were heaped In backroom closets. The sting of chilblains On sock-soaked feet, The line of footprints Led to our seats. We had one pair at school, No other cover Sliding across the oaken floors. Drying on the radiators, Our pungent odor, A synaptic recall, The unschooled smell Of winter schoolyards.
My hands died slowly, with blood vessels surrendering to the chill. They turned grey, yellow, lavender, dusky. Dusky, like the sun had been setting for hours and I only just realized it. Pills made them pink again, but I can’t help but notice you flex your fingers after we shake. A cold grip doesn’t suit you
yet. Gloves on, or else I’ll hold the palm over a light bulb in the bathroom before running it along his spine. Blood thinned out to water, bouquets of nerve
endings wilted. I lost a piece of each pinky promise, the weight of a wedding-band. Flipping the bird at the catcallers carries one joint less meaning, and I have trouble getting to the point. As I brush my thumb along my lover’s wrist, back and forth and back and forth, I only feel the holes.