by Marie Kane

Mittened fingers dig
into snow and sled
picks up speed.
Metal runners skim
the quick surface,
hands steer to avoid
raspberry briars,
oaks, and maples,
their vigilant
branches swathed
in snow.
You begin to turn
the sled’s horns
before the field
drops. You’ve performed
this high wire act
before, but this time,
too fast to make
the turn and you tumble
off. The empty Flexible
Flyer rushes onto Blakely
Street. A blue sedan
with horrified driver
sounds a wooden crunch.
A jagged piece boomerangs
from the street;
your fingers reach
to touch its rough

At the top of the hill,
your brother wildly
extends his hands: Stop!
A soldier to the rescue,
he windmills down
the narrow field,
evades trees and last
autumn’s snow-buried
circle of fire-rocks.
There, he had roasted
potatoes on orange-eyed
embers, tossed them onto
blue and yellow corn-flowered
plates, presented cutlery
and condiments
in his baseball glove.
Now, he kicks loose snow
during his headlong rush:
he thinks you’ve landed
onto Blakely Street.

Later, snow-crusted mittens,
sweaters, hats drip wet-wool
scent from living room’s silver
radiator. Cigarette smoke rises
from your mother’s clenched,
right hand, the other smoothes
your hair, realizing how little
it takes for an ungluing
of everything to occur.

Your brother never admitted
his raw terror at this presumed
loss, yet the week before
he dies, trach tube preventing
speech, he roughly sketched
the memory: the sled with its bow
under the Christmas tree,
dots and dots of snowstorm’s
white haze, his sister clinging
to the speeding sled, the crushed
wooden pieces that he risked
his life to gather, hoping
grandfather could repair
the damage. You both
smile at your good fortune.

There is always resistance
in the snow at the beginning
of the slide, none at the end.
How much harder to release
your hands, to let go, to give
permission, when no snow,
no slick runners, no drop off,
no busy street, no jagged
pieces loom.  ■


Marie Kane’s poetry has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, U.S. 1 Worksheets, Wordgathering, and others. She lives in Yardley, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Stephen Millner, an artist. Her website is
©2013-2018 Small Print Magazine. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the publisher.