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Emily Shilton

First Snow

It was our mother who rendered suet on the first snow of every winter,

thickening the mixture with dried fruits and seeds.

Hand-over-hand, she showed us how to mold balls and knot them with twine

so they could be hung from the elm in our backyard, to prepare

the robins and the sparrows for the dark days ahead.

It was her too, who dragged us, unwilling and indignant,

to soup kitchens where we watched her hand overflowing bowls

to wooly men in oversized coats and learned how to

hold space for suffering without looking away.

But it was you, my sister, who told me it was easiest for her to love us

when we were all need and no will. As our faces aged into hers,

the lines between the parts and the whole became blurred,

and yes, she howled when you said you were leaving town with him,

but did you find the pair of gloves she placed in your car that night?

Something to keep your hands warm as you drove away from us.

About the Author

Emily Shilton is a Canadian writer and engineer living in San Francisco. Her fiction has been published in 300 Days of Sun (Pushcart Nominated) and Delmarva Review. Her poetry won the UW HeForShe Writing Contest.

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