by Jeff Oaks

Remember those enormous icicles that used to hang like teeth off the eaves deep in the middle of winter? We used to snap them off if we could reach them and suck on them, lick them, crunch them in our teeth. You couldn’t hate winter where I lived in western upstate New York; you had to eat it. You had no choice but to learn how to move over it, tunnel and shovel through it, make angels where you could. There was such silence in it an introvert like me took comfort from it. It quieted everyone else for a bit. It forced the noisy and loud to slow down, think a little, turn inward. The scrunch and grunt of the snow shovelers wasn’t always unhappy or irritated. It felt good to have a clear purpose. My parents medicated themselves with television. Glittering icicles guarded the windows, some as thick as arms , some as delicate as needles. Water brought to a standstill. The windows glazed with dazzle. You opened a book and pulled up the covers of an afghan on the couch and you escaped down the well of a story. The dogs pressed themselves close. When you wanted to remember where you were again, you looked up, out the window where the icicles were closing in. Occasionally ice-weight would snap the power lines and there you’d be, lighting white candles and turning faucets on to drip, the whole of winter ticking its fingers on the thickening glass.