My mother is fearful of dark water

and snow. It must be the way 

both transform the landscape 

of the familiar. Peril—a word pretty

enough to describe the glittery

encasement of winter. Erasure 

in a slaughter of cloud-sift; anxiety

no less defined by clot and smatter, 

sharp edges going deeper. Beneath

a warm spotlight, my mother would 

remember the birds; the same ones 

that stunned themselves against our

summer windows, soft beating hearts

with wings. Despite the menagerie 

of ice, they’d feast on suet and seed.

Gathering, like my mother’s own dark flock 

of thoughts each night on the same old roost. 

But what else could you do in a house 

full of sons and a wayward daughter?

Children, who’d turn in opposing 

compass points and abide the landscape’s

random keeping. Children, my mother

would recall, who’d left their angels 

flapping in the drifts and rode the slippery 

hills face first on waxed blades.


Laura Sobbott Ross has worked as a teacher and a writing coach for Lake County Schools and was recently named poet laureate for the Lake County Library Systems. Her poetry has appeared in many journals including Meridian, The Florida Review, Blackbird, and Tar River Poetry. She was a finalist for the Art & Letters Poetry Prize and won the Southern Humanities Auburn Witness Poetry Prize. Her poetry chapbooks are A Tiny Hunger and My Mississippi. Her third book, The Graffiti of Pompeii, is forthcoming this year.