Tim Staley, A Gentle, White Depression

A Gentle, White Depression

The light of day’s
not so great.
The greasy cottage cheese
of snow
late in the day
slobbers up the ridgeline.

I wonder if worrying
about living
a long time
wicks away the fun
from actually
living.

Fresh snow
swallows the old;
the trail withholds
vital information.

It’s been snowing
since my wife’s birthday
on December 2nd.
By December 29th
it’s hard to recognize
the trail
from all the other
gentle, white depressions.

I could just say
“yuppies guppies”
anytime anything
fails at home.
Instead I hold my face
sourpuss for days.
Instead I
force the air
of family.

Now I’m cold
in the Aldo Leopold.
A million wet glisters
rhyme the bars
of morning sun.
I Merry Christmased
against my wife,
against my daughter,
against my life.
It’s wasn’t performance art, exactly.
It just sucks in retrospect
seeing yourself
sitting around
waiting to boil.

With every step
the snow grows sulky
against the plow
of my shins
and knees
and thighs.
It accumulates
against my waist.
It presses my chest.
One more step
it’s got me by the neck.

My eight-year-old told me
wolves can make
12 different sounds,
or maybe it was 24.
The important thing is
wolves.

Whiskey weighs down my pack.
It lightens
with every sip
at the expense
of tomorrow.

I’m not drifting
like a baby spider
down from a snowy branch
and that’s on me.

I’m totally aware of trees—
I see that now—
but I’m too
caught on the bark
to hear
the heartwood.

My marriage
is the silk thread
of a baby spider,
drifting down from a tree,
19 years long.

Powder in the boughs
explodes in wet clouds
which swirl and sweep
under my tarp
and into the chambers
connecting
my ears, nose
and throat.

If adults can do anything
and go anywhere
why’s this paperweight
like a fossil in shale
married to my guts?

The hot ember
of the human world
burns through my rain layer
as I drop
from the ridgeline
into the Mimbres
River valley.

A tiny spider
drifts down
from a frozen tree
on barely a breeze.

Tim Staley holds degrees, has been published, and he edits Grandma Moses Press, but he often wonders if any of that matters. He’s 43 and guesses that matters; it means we can know what TV shows were popular when he was forming his aesthetic.

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