Winter, Interior

by nicolecallihan


I like to imagine that when the days shorten I am filled so full of snowflakes that they lace my lashes and are on my tongue–already–when I open my mouth to catch them, when I have just pulled myself from the ground where I had lain flapping my arms and legs and yelling “Angel,” when I have not at all minded the gunmetal sky, but have, instead, found peace while walking under it for miles and miles, feeling little more than the hot breath returned to me from the thick wool of my scarf, but really, I prefer spring.


In New York City, when it is too hot or too cold, the delis pull the flowers inside and place them in large green buckets along the floor and in the way of the cinnamon raisin bread and the sticky buns. When I first moved to town, I was intoxicated by the sheer number of flowers; now, I feel overwhelmed. I know tulips, of course, and roses, but my daughter, Eva, asks me what the others are, and I find myself calling anything purple a “lilac.” I have tried to google “identifying nyc deli flowers” in hopes that I can print out a fold-able sort of bird-watching sheet but have had no luck.


The winter I was nine, my mother and I lived on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Nights, we fell asleep on the couch during the 6 o’clock Wheel of Fortune. It was just so cold and dark. My mother told me later that she must have been depressed, sleeping, as we did, for twelve hours straight. Once, driving through the badlands on our two-hour stretch home from getting groceries that had to be packed on dry-ice so as not to spoil, our car spun off into a ditch, and we thought we were going to die. When we managed to live, I reached into the paper sack in the back, and we opened up two Diet Cokes to celebrate.


Sometimes I think that this baby that I have been carrying around in my uterus for the past 38 weeks (I am as BIG as the sky!) will come on the first day of spring and I’ll call her Daisy. Or that she’ll be born on the last day of winter, and I’ll call her something like Katherine, which seems a bit remote and cold but also very beautiful. This year the weather has been so mild that I often forget socks; it’s as if I’m unprepared for such a reprieve. I also seem to forget to brush Eva’s hair before school.


Sweet pea, million bell, dahlia, lavender, tangled wisteria.


In health class, they showed us a film called “The Little Girl who Died of Loneliness.” She was on the bus; no one talked to her; she fell, finally, face-first into the snow. To me, it was an admonition of winter. Had she held out until spring, she would have fallen into the flowers instead. I imagine lying in the flowers and breathing in the sweet verbena before rolling over and staring up at the thinning sky. Strange how seasons used to seem so immutable, as if calling something gray might turn it into rain.