Red Mittens

Jan Zlotnik Schmidt

I stretch a pair of child’s red gloves

over my knuckles and nails

the wool thinned

like a layer of gauze

I am stunned

surprised my large hands

could accommodate so small a prize


They arrive in a package

with a feathered dreamcatcher

a 2020 calendar Christmas cards

with wreaths and red birds    reminders from the

St. Joseph’s School for Orphan Indian

Children to buy their Christmas presents

Pleas and please


I remember a pair of red mittens

that dug into snow drifts

formed crusty ice balls

thrown with an angled arm

at the catalpa tree

Tossed one and another

until the snow turned to dust

scabbed against bark


And as snow fell I opened

my small mittened hands

flakes  sparkling like

stars In my open palms


Then I smashed snow into blocks

Built a fort  dug down

I was an Eskimo in an igloo

And it was time for the Iditarod

my huskies ready  I swayed

swerved and tugged

at pretend reins until I fell

into a glacial landscape

Lips and toes blue from cold


Now I stretch the gloves

over my fingers   brush

snowflakes away from my cheek

gaze up at the Big Dipper

the little Dipper the North Star

constellations my father

pointed out to me

on cloudless nights


The same fleet wonder


Warmth in my fingers

before blue cold

takes away all dreaming.


Shawangunk Review Volume XXXI Copyright © 2020 by Jan Zlotnik Schmidt. All Rights Reserved.

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