like mother’s milk, the snow has scent
our bodies seek and hunger for,
while the black sky bright against the white
reveals the shape of things, our edges,
ghosts, the meanness of ice,
and winter’s too-slow return to light.
Late at night, the sky threatens this sinking earth
as we walk along the coast,
my family and their dreams lost in the waves,
the shtetl that they fled across this water
and all in their graves.
I don’t know how to explain to their memory
what has happened, what I have done
with my time here, how I have tried
to love this place, to save this place,
fed too as I’ve been by love and struggle
by loss. And all of this beautiful snow
the joy and cruelty of snow
the way that winter contains us
in its endless fields, its massive hands,
the way it brings us closer to our beginnings—
dark, light, and altar.
Meghan Sterling’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Rattle, Rust & Moth, SWIMM, The Night Heron Barks, Cider Press Review, Inflectionist Review, The West Review, UCity Review, Sky Island Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review Westchester Review, Pine Hills Review, Menacing Hedge and many others. She is Associate Poetry Editor of the Maine Review, a Finalist in River Heron Review’s 2021 annual poetry contest, and winner of Sweet Literary's 2021 annual poetry contest. Her collection These Few Seeds is out now from Terrapin Books. Sterling is Program Director for the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance and lives in Portland, Maine. Read her work at meghansterling.com.