Walking the streets again. It's only December, but winter has already been cold and wet. If there were still homeless philosophers, people'd call it selfmortification. Instead, I work in the service industry and they just look at me sideways, lines of german shepherds sledding on Audis, trying to understand the expression on my face while frozen tears fall from the sky, shattering on my head, face and shoulders. Ice gibs are freezing into my hair.

Walk along the roads, walk along the river.

Gas stations won't take fifty dollar bills from people like me. You lack consumer credibility when they see you cross the street on foot, face red and numb, layers of clothes visible through their holes. My eyes keep wandering to patches of green, brown, gray. I let my feet wander a bit more, through the downtown alleys, watch the back sides of buildings fall apart awhile. I'd probably have been smiling if I still had control of my lips. Instead a vacant, dreamy expression, like the pleasant kind of beggar, just drunk enough he won't bother you for change, just walking to keep off the frostbite. I light a cigarette and get most of it down before my fingers stop working.

By this point, the ice is mostly rain, and I walk with my face to the sky for a hundred feet or so, lend my face out to the last real thing I know. The water tastes good but it's not coming down heavy enough to get a drink. My face is wet, and every time the breeze picks up I feel like something inside me is blowing away with it. If it weren't for the slight limp, I'd swear I was floating to the Otherworld.

The river is beautiful, the rocks and the trees and the dead grass glitter and shine, all glass and crystals in the gray light. Close my eyes and walk for some time, listening to the rain and ice falling through the trees, sounds like a thousand rain sticks turning in unison. My leg is still insisting something is wrong. The cold seems almost hyperborean and has seeped into the part that was broken once. I imagine myself becoming one of those Cold Things, blue-skinned, ice-toothed, dining on the warmth of others. I walk for another half hour before I turn around and head home.

Now I'm back in the trailer and wishing I wasn't. Wishing I would turn off the heater, tear off the roof. I want to go back. But that's not what I am. I'm not the tears of a fallen angel or the decayed footholds of man or the grass that died so it could grow again. I am not the wind that blows in from the other side. I'm just something that half-remembers them and a time when their magic was a daily part of life, when there was more to it than melancholy remembrances and souvenirs of nostalgia. I'm only human.

I listen to Winter pounding on my trailer roof, calling me out. I listen to her plead and threaten. She says she loves me, misses me, that she hates me, and doesn't need me anyway. She tells me how she has been here so long I forgot she was more than a season and that every drop is a promise of all things to come and go and return and leave. I make the tea and write the story and listen to the rain until it's gone.

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