His daughter is too young to remember the last time the sky fell. From this hill on Highland golf course they can see Birmingham’s abandoned downtown towers and hear the freeway’s Niagara rush to get everybody home. He watches the clouds take on a peculiar cast, as though they are spun of wool instead of vapor. The plunging temperature thrills him. He just prays the future isn’t made of ice.
Only yesterday he had shown his daughter the small white blossoms of winter honeysuckle, held her up to inhale that January perfume as he whispered its name in her ear. Now she is bundled in goose down against an Arctic Alabama wind and the word he must teach her stays high overhead, flickering on a radar beam.
While grownups plunder supermarket shelves of potato chips and milk, children gather by the window keeping watch for another world. His older son has already sailed on gravity once before, that day two years ago when the golf course became a roller coaster ride. Three crows glide above the Piggly Wiggly store. He hears them calling for the miracle to begin.
At first it looks like smoke. The hard-edged city skyline starts to waver and fade, an illusion all along, a dream with the meter running – he sees a veil dropped by a magician make it vanish. Block by block, visibility draws to a close.
He’s read that every flake must form around a nucleus, bits of Sahara Desert dust,particles of Mount St. Helens still traveling the stratosphere, dead stars pulverized by time. He takes his daughter in his arms. He yearns for her to learn all there is to know.
She screams with joy. The flakes are enormous and wet, coming straight down, spinning like whirligigs, sticking to the grass like dandelion fluff. Traffic slides to a halt on Clairmont Avenue. A runner twirls with his arms out.
He waits until the ground is gone then puts his daughter down to take her first steps on virgin territory. He licks the sweet cold feathery dew from his lips. The white curtain descends around them. Together, lost without a care, he knows the time is right to teach her the word for snow.
– Steve Brammell
Steve Brammell has written for Alabama Magazine, Birmingham Magazine, and other publications in the past. Since returning to his native Indiana he’s published poems in RavensPerch, Northwest Indiana Literary Journal, White Wall Review, The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Write Launch, Flying Island Journal, Cathexis Northwest Press, and others. He lives in Indianapolis and works in the wine business.