Jack Berning: “Thaw”


Father told me about the meat
of a mastodon—
the Siberian winter kept it fresh
all these years.

I slept in the freezer
with the meat.
I liked the cold
& couldn’t move.

Father brought a redhead
in a yellow dress
a tulip in her teeth
to thaw me out.

A man has a choice.

Remembered in me
a pretty boy
reading a book in the park—
I told father I cared for him.

Father was a peak.
Mountain boys know
up top, the snow
stays put.

Down here, heavy
yellow night dumps
flurry after flurry. This snow
cannot escape spring.

Too early in May,
the woods tease
their little flowers.
I smell the thaw of river.

His breath a furnace
to my neck.

it’s just too warm here—


Jack Berning is a writer and graduate student at Colorado State University, pursuing an MFA in poetry. He currently lives alone in Fort Collins, Colorado.


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