Lost in Winter

by    /  June 23, 2020  / Comments Off on Lost in Winter

by Gwendolyn A. Mitchell

Every once in a while, I get lost in the winter
evening just after dusk. I am Downtown waiting
for the 82 Lincoln, standing across the street from what should be Gimbels
where I would sometimes meet my grandmother
as she made her exchange for the Butler Street bus line
that took her to 7106, the gathering house
overlooking the Allegheny.
House where coal fires burned
and the soot was swept ritually
after the first winter coal drop landed in a heap next to the big black furnace.
Heat rising to the second-floor grated vent.

This was our warming place.
Once as my grandmother stood extending her hands toward the comfort,
she shook away a shiver of a half daydream, half this is the place I was reaching for—
that November. 1950. On an after-Thanksgiving
outing.  White had taken over everything.
Cousin Sumpter’s car just stopped midway between here and Stanton Avenue.
Grandmother’s voice, a gentle cadence
used to recitation and carefully placed words, continues,
My youngest daughter and I planned to be back
in a few hours and left home in Sunday shoes unprepared
for the worst blizzard in Pittsburgh’s history.
We pushed past streetcars iced in their tracks.
We walked, trudged, almost crawled through snow mounds.
I feel the chill just listening. How they were frozen
to the bone when they made it home.
She said she never felt so lost in winter.

Gwendolyn A. Mitchell
is a poet, editor, and literary consultant. She received her Master of Fine Arts in English from Pennsylvania State University. Mitchell has been widely published and is the author of the poetry collection, House of Women, and a chapbook, Veins and Rivers.

City of Asylum believes that All Pittsburghers are Poets. With the Poem of the Week series, we seek to increase the readership and appreciation of poetry locally by publishing poems written by residents of Allegheny County of all ages and levels of experience. In partnership with the Poetry Editors at Sampsonia Way Magazine, City of Asylum advances our mission to defend, celebrate, and build on creative freedom of expression. This project received a RADical ImPAct Grant from the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD).

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