WINTER OF CONTENT
An Auschwitz thin child, skin a redhead’s pale
most arms shoved against mine a healthy brown
next to weak-tea freckles and see-through hair.
My skin burned through lotion when anyone
remembered to put it on. After the redness, blisters,
fire, my skin back to pale, milkier than ever.
Geesch,, get some sun strangers called out,
then laughed about how white my legs, so
I took to long skirts, long pants, knee socks or tights.
The six months of Wisconsin winter neutralized
the spectrum of skin shades, the low sun stripped
of potent Coppertone tan don’t burn rays.
I learned to love winter, when most of me
covered by bundles of clothing. My cheeks,
just like everyone else’s, reddened by cold.
Waking up to first snowfall, the rush
to the closet, a jumble of hooded snowsuits,
buckled boots, hats, mittens on a string.
The fingers got cold first, no matter how dense
the wool, then the toes, buried under layers
of sock, shoe, rubber boot with furry cuff.
That first step into virgin snow, falling into it,
licking it, rolling it into tight balls to stack
behind the wall of a mighty snow fort.
We took turns on sled, toboggan, flying saucer,
the big ones helping little ones with the ropes
to get us all back up the hill to go down all over again.
Even snowball fights, generally harmless,
slinging white spheres, that lucky
smatter on a cushioned back,
the tromped down whiteness
that made every yard a playground.
The nuns told us in heaven we could have
whatever we want and I prayed, good I want
a tan. But I want something else now, snowfall,
the kind that makes for equal footing.