In morning’s chill, you watch your own hot breath
with doubt: its pale, ephemeral display
of life will fade fast on this heartless day
when frosted grass and downed leaves hint of death.
You hug yourself against the cold’s intrusion,
as if you could contract into a sphere
of self-perpetuating heat; you fear
that sunrise was a well-rehearsed illusion.
You envy winged escapees as they sail
toward southern skies, their flight propelled by lack
of faith or tolerance; they don’t look back
as solar furnaces appear to fail.
But you can see your breath—the evidence
of your warm-blooded, well-rehearsed defense.
by Jean L. Kreiling, first published in Snakeskin 212.
Editor’s Note: The volta of this sonnet belies the frozen despair of the preceding lines with classic sonnet form.