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Holly Russell


One cold white flake


out of the muffled heights

one flake following another,

crystals becoming dust

becoming drifts

becoming 80 inches of snow in Buffalo, New York

where at least 39 people have been

whited out.


Hearts stopped in the midst of clearing and shoveling.

A father froze before holding his soon-to-be-born child.

A grandmother vanished.

A young woman perished

texting family in her car.

No present went unwrapped under my tree

this Christmas.

No crystal tore loose from the matrix of my soul.

My son texted from his car on Friday

northeast of the center of the blizzard

wedged in a drift

snowy night closing in.

“I’m toasty,” he said, having wrapped himself in blankets

including the towel I spread for the dog.

He had gas in the tank.

A patrol car checked in on him.

A tow truck hoped to come and, yes, the next day he made it home.

The news cycles on.

The weather listens to its prophets.

We focus on the present and put aside the might-have-been.

As a child in the 1970s, I remember sitting on the couch

flipping through pictures in National Geographic magazines.

I remember when I stopped to give one page my full attention:

a tiny figure in a knitted hat

her socks bound with strips of hide.

Was it the Andes where she lay frozen with a hole of snow around her?

The Himalayas? I don’t remember,

nor when I search the web do I find a trace of her today.

She lives with me, still, though

the way she lived centuries earlier

before she died alone

trapped in the snow.

About the Author

Holly Russell’s work includes poems in Writing The Land: Currents, The Ogham Stone, Hibiscus, Literary Mama, The Good Men Project, Pendemic, Gaining Ground, Darien Pollinator Pathway, Smyth County VA Tourism, and All Things Alison. She teaches English Language and Learning at Building One Community in Stamford, CT: @holleeerussell and

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