my father is that first day when it starts to
get cold. when summer kind of gives up paddling
and sinks, when the air lingers between dawn
and dusk, when all your jackets seem too thin.
there’s no fall in Moscow
or there is, but they call it summer and their fingers
mediate between green and violet and they call that
love and their stomachs’ rattle they call that strength.
they stretch halves into thirds, blankets into coats
and keep their eyes on the cement scented
permafrost so they can catch the first shoots
after winter, which they call spring.
my father bares all his arthritic branches
to the sky. when I ask him about those winter spring summer
falls, he is quiet. but he never lets me throw out bread crusts and
he goes outside, that first cold day
and stands with no shoes in the driveway, creaking, weighed down
by the threat of long winter settled into his mind.
he holds his head like an old boxer, bruised knuckles and
blue fingers and tired pride.
once I asked him why he was outside and weren’t
his feet cold? and he shrugged and tilted
his head a little and said
it’s going to snow.
Katerina Ivanov is a graduate of Boston College, where she studied English. She has won various writing awards, including the McCarthy Award for poetry and the Cardinal Cushing Award for fiction, and has forthcoming poems in Sooth Swarm and Going Down Swinging. She lives and writes in Boston.