Winter Is a Big Empty House

Also cold. There is no heat
or maybe no one has started up the furnace.
We’re standing on the porch, the dogs and I,
the place between indoors and out some of you might call
by other names, ones that end in a vowel
or mean “any room grown over with vines.”
It isn’t on the map because it always moves
but the air there is as gold as pears
and smells like apples, which excites the dogs
who want to eat everything along with the cricket
in the corner who won’t stop playing even
when it’s time to go in. I do not want to go in,
to the hallways where people are shivering,
entire floors once flooded, now black and reeking,
where bad dreams are stacked like magazines,
molding, unread and unreadable.
I want to stay here sniffing, sipping fresh-pressed juice
the color of chestnuts while white smoke of morning fog
burns holes in the sky, like snow in summer,
hot and cold, burning and freezing, paradise, the fall.

Emily Wheeler is a poet, editor, and teacher living in Jena, Germany.