The Road I Took
by Susan Austin

The road I took
is a field of snow, is long
and muddied now.

I wore the moon
on my forehead

so I might illuminate
myself, sublimated

in a field of surface hoar
four inches deep

and bright enough
to climb back up to the shining world.

Fall, let

your arms, legs
flap, play

for God’s sake.
Melodic the sound the making

of wings, the insubstantial hoar.
Come near,

hear the

bird’s eye.

Bend the air
and fly.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: Old boots, newish jeans, and a pair of legs that worked, on the shore of a lake somewhere in the Tetons. Around here, we don’t give away the exact location of our secret spots.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Winter surrounds me with snow. I can’t walk off the porch without putting on a pair of skis. Thriving here requires its own metamorphosis, witness the fox, the bear. Once I skied home through four inches of surface hoar, the snow crystals the size of silver dollars, night singing in a sparkling field. I wished I could fly; I felt as if I could. I have been recovering from Lyme disease for four billion beats of a hummingbird’s heart. Illness has had a way of forcing me to find new ways of making sense of the world, and myself in it; the muddied snow. How to find a way out of the depth? And then a voice says just fall into it, life, make snow angels. I taught my dog to make snow angels only to the command, “Make a snow bird.” She is a bird dog after all, so we make birds. We let ourselves be transformed by the simplest of things, sometimes because we have to.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Birds often appear in Susan Austin’s poems. When she was young she thought she could fly. You know the Guy Clark song, “Eight years old with a flour sack cape tied all around [her] neck . . .” Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Best New American Voices 2003, Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, Borderlands, Hanging Loose, and Clerestory.