Seeing snow for the first time

by Jay Sizemore


Yesterday, he found a swastika painted on his door.
Red paint, that dripped in rivulets like lamb’s blood,
only today no one feels safer for sacrifice.
The air in this country always smells of jasper,
dirt and the sea. But this morning the scents
turned cold, everything a reflection of the sun,
hills clothed in white robes the angels couldn’t wear.
He knelt and felt the burn of crushed ice
in his fist, threw his first snowball
and watched his laughter turn to vapor,
clouds that vanished like whispers for rain.

Yesterday, his knife bit bone, cutting off a Christian’s head.
The desert drank deep, blood and sand turned dark,
a smell like iron caked with rust. Without his mask,
he could kiss his wife, relish the water
her lips left on his cheek, listen to the voice of god
humming between her thighs. This morning,
he woke to a scimitar sky, the world a white wedge
of light through a tent flap. His eyes stung.
He knelt and felt the burn of crushed ice
in his fist, threw his first snowball
and watched his breath turn to vapor,
clouds that vanished like whispers for rain.

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