Terry W. Loessin was awarded an Honorable Mention in Poetry in the 2016 Prison Writing Contest.

Dear brother,
Remember those rare winters when
snow actually fell
before the great tree hunt and
small quail scurried
soft as a whisper
across white pastures
we called our backyard?

We would wake
too stunned
by this silence seldom seen
through country lace and glass.

“Snow!” “Snow!” we both screamed.

Like a great blanket draping the barnyard,
reshaping all that was familiar,
cleansing and refreshing
the slate that held our memories
wiping all the hurt away.

Our show lambs roamed in curious quest
along their new precarious stage,
fading in and out of view
in matching white season coats.
“Look at us, look at us,
now we’re light, now we’re dark;
now you see us, now you don’t…
you’ll never see us slip for heaven’s sake!”

‘If only…,” he’d snipe,
“you always slip,” he’d gripe.

If only silence such as this could last
and fowl found reason not to crow
and he who shunned the sun stayed sleeping
and found reason not to show, or even wake!

We would leap,
bundled by Mom,
from the old back porch
as the screen door banged
to the beat of our boots
making our way across the field
finally reaching the only green growing
in that miraculously pure, white-washed world.

We needed no preacher to point from the pulpit
to bring the lesson home—
that green Cedar standing
like the signpost that it was
in this bitter cold and lifeless world,
desperately reaching up to the All-Knowing—
we knew what it was…
an unspoken word.

An unspoken word gifted upon the canvas
warming our hearts,
stilling the chill,
if only for a time
before the call we knew would come
to return inside our small San Gabriel home.
And then, you and I, shivers returning, stood…
hesitating, hoping hope could come inside as well.
dawn had come for him, it always would.

“If only…,” he’d snipe,
“you always bang,” he’d gripe.

sometimes later I’d recall
those rare winters when
there’d actually be snow
before the great tree hunt
and you were by my side.

later would I find peace
in looking back at these
fond memories of those times
and find that remedy
for that which plagues my mind.

Still, brother, how was it then such peace you always seemed to know?