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Lake-Effect Snow

My brother is still learning to walk and he’s tall enough that the snow outside could swallow him whole.  

It’s bright outside, the lake is frozen over,  

  and I’ve got two hands on the ground. 

I’ve got two hands frozen on the ground,  

         and somewhere along the line 

the snow makes my hands numb enough that it shakes me to my core— 

but not here.  

      Not here, not here, not here. 

     Here, I am outside  

with my siblings who are tall enough to disappear head-first into snow. 

     They’re tall enough to disappear into the earth and I  

         am tall enough to rest atop it. 

Our dad calls us inside.  

 There’s a fire that burns to the core. 

The world is only as big as the snow in our front yard  

           and the stairs in front of my bedroom. 

Somewhere along the line, the world becomes  

         the stars and the sun 

and the people I’ve loved  

and the things I wish I could get back. 

But not here.  

    Not here, not here, not here. 


Months, maybe weeks later, I’m in a house that I’ll know my whole life. 

   I'm tall enough to reach across the dining room table.  

   There's still carpet in the hall.  

   I'm tall enough to stand on the kitchen counters 

   and reach the top shelf.  

   I'm tall enough to see out the window on my own  

   when those bright red birds pass by. 

I'm tall enough to see the world for everything it is, 

      because when you're this tall, 

      the world is only the things that you can hold in the palm of your hand. 

You run some more, you learn some more things,  

and the world becomes something big enough that you lose sight of it entirely. 

               But right now, 

you're tall enough to hang the Christmas ornaments where the cats can't get them.  

Maybe that's enough.  

 Maybe that’s all there needs to be. 


Somewhere along the line, you realize that you got it right the first time. 

You realize that the world only needed to be  

    the snow in your yard, 

    the white noise of the TV, 

    the stairs up to your bedroom. 

The world only needed to be what you could fit in the palm of your hand. 

      But not here. 

                                             not here, not here, not here. 

  • D.E. Culpepper studies Ancient Greece in his spare time. Occasionally, he is interested in philosophy and writing. He lives in an apartment with many small objects and a cat that enjoys kicking them in hard-to-reach places. He wrote his first poem at 7 years old, in which he recounts the woes that accompany eating too much candy. 

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