TotD: Regional Wit (Prose Poem)


By Alexandra Erin



This was the year winter came late. It rolled into class fifteen minutes after the bell with a red Starbucks cup, avoiding eye contact and mumbling excuses about El Niño in the general direction of Ned Stark.

Four days after Christmas, our first hint of white was a fog bank, crystallized and made golden in the phosphorescent glare of the parking lot street lamps outside Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and the K-Mart, two stores now trapped in amber like some great primeval insects.

Well, not that great. I mean, it’s just the K-Mart and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet.

I don’t miss the cold, I miss the feel of it. I miss the certainty of the seasons, even if it was never all that certain to begin with. I’ve seen more white Easters, Thanksgivings, and Halloweens than Christmases. I’m from Nebraska, where they say “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” Except they say that everywhere. It’s like the one where the state bird is the mosquito and the state tree is the traffic cone. If you want to see something truly universal in this life, you have to look at regional wit.

I think if I counted the minutes I’ve spent waiting for something to change, I’d waste a lot more minutes in the process and a lot fewer in the future. That only really works for the weather, and maybe traffic signals.

I love the way the night sky looks when it snows in the city, when the light turns to amber and the sky to amethyst. Omaha becomes a fairy kingdom in the snow, and the First National Tower the enchanted palace at the center of it, one blazing column of light flying up into infinity. Every other night of the year I hate the wasteful, star-blotting excess of energy we pour out into space, but when it snows, when the snow hangs in the air in thick, feather-light clumps, I love it.

There’s nothing like that here, but then, there’s nothing like there here. That’s the point of different places, as near as I can tell. The jokes don’t change much. Mostly it’s the view that does, or maybe the person seeing it.

This was the year winter came late. If you don’t like it, wait five minutes.