When Puskin Comes To Shovel
by Elizabeth Iannaci

His nose and exposed lobes
are pink as newborn mice
peeking beneath a silver-tipped
fur hat. The snow reaches the tops
of his polished boots as he takes
the shovel from the frozen coils
of my fingers.Thank God,
you came
I say. If it snows again
I'll be, stuck.
Though I've only
cleared the landing and the steps,
he says Come inside Little Mother,
this snow should live here another
day. Or two.
Entering the room,
he tosses his hat onto the antler
on the back of the door as though
he lives here, removes his gloves
& greatcoat, helps me out of my sweater,
orders me sternly to Take off those
absurd shoes.
I protest, The storm
was sudden, unheard of for July

sandals are all I have with me.
He shrugs, These are mountains. Miracles
can happen at this altitude. Make God's
intended use of it,
He kneels, unbuckles
my ankle straps, his hands colder
than the Russian winter. He rubs first
my left, then my right foot, blowing
hot breath onto each purple toe,
his hands warming with every sigh.
In silence I put on the kettle, serve him
tea in a glass. He pops a sugar cube
into his mouth, sips the dark infusion
through it, then rolls and lights a cigarette,
making intricate rings as he exhales.
Shouldn't we write something? I ask,
mostly, to fill the quiet. Light sparks
in his muttonchops as he shakes his head,
Writing is like weather. It arrives. You don't
make it come, you prepare, cut wood, stoke
the fire, stay warm. See which leaf
outlasts its season.
For a long time there is
no sound but the occasional hiccough
of floorboards settling. I say, There is
a deck of cards around here, somewhere

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