the long parade

the shadows of leaves at three am
become gigantic against the house beside me
they rub their projected selves
against the brick face
in rhythm to the breeze.
somewhere out there, winter is whispering
to me.
for the first time,
she is alluring.
i want to taste her.
i want her
the way my tongue wants ice
in august.

i have a picture
of a very old woman
in a parade.
she’s wearing the body of a long red fish —
as long as she is long —
but horizontal,
like a boat swimming through air.
i’m going to blow
that picture up
and hang it on my wall.
because i’m moving
towards the colorless winter
of her face.
i’m traveling deep
into the streams
of my own aborted longings,
the places my love has carried me.

i’ll keep her picture
in my sight
to remind me
that when i go to meet the delicious
winter, i want to be swimming
in the bright red kayak
of the fiercest hope.

wendy shaffer

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