On a walk after sunset / by Christina Rosalie

It's cold out tonight.The kind of cold that makes me fold my arms around myself, feeling my pulse in my glove clad finger tips, as my breath floats up in the air around my head like a halo or a thought caption.

My footsteps make loud sounds across the frozen ground as I follow the dog, clipped on a length of rope I've wrapped around my palm. She dashes off ahead following the wild scent of deer or squirrel or rabbit across the pale snow. I follow after. Lurching, stopping, feeling the way my heartbeat makes thunder in my ears.

It's cold the way it hasn't been all winter and my unaccustomed cheeks burn bright, while overhead the almost full moon, that bowl of milk, spills its light all over.

There are moon shadows at my feet, squat and dark, following now before, now after as I turn towards home.

The weather has been a yo-yo, indecisive, shaky in its course. One day the road's all mud; the next the puddles hard again while in the woods, the trees know their certain secrets.

On the mild nights, owls fill the woods at dusk; on the quiet days, silence. It is the same with my heart: lifting off and landing a thousand times right here. Startled, steady, mild, wild.