A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2006, vol 2 no 2

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Sabine Miller

First Snow

My feet disappear in a cold white lake. I am wearing my favorite shoes, cotton Chinese slippers my mom embroidered with flowers and suns. Underneath are wool socks I plan to remove when I arrive in Miami. I have a plane to catch. I didn't anticipate it would be this deep.

At the corner I turn to hail a cab from the morning traffic, and a crane from a nearby construction site breaks loose from its moorings. The line of the falling crane intersects the line of my lifting arm, as if I am orchestrating an urban catastrophe. The crane crashes into the McGill music building, bringing down electricity wires, traffic lights, and several tons of centuries-old stone. Some cars collide with the lightpoles or with each other; some stop and start again, making their way around the rubble. One of the lucky ones is my cab.

An hour later: the plane's ascent through clearing air. I imagine I can see through the white rooftops, a Breugel-eye view of Montreal. A man hugs a woman's knees, children run to the windows, fish vendors weigh the morning catch... chipped paint, blood stains, mildew blossoms... sprawl of death, slop of birth.

It is the end of my first semester of college, and I am flying home.

swim lessons
the final exam
fully clothed