I grew up in Minnesota, but my family is from the Texas panhandle. When Texas had a power crisis last February, I’d been living in the Southern US for almost a decade. Even though we weren’t hit quite as hard in Arkansas where I live, it was distressing to be thrown back into those below-zero temperatures—between quarantine and the cold, it was like being eighteen and clinically depressed all over again. It was more upsetting to see the vindictive glee in some progressive circles. This poem emerged as a sort of response.
Eight inches in Fayetteville, Arkansas / overnight. I cry in the shower till the water / runs cold. I tell my love / I moved / to the South for / a reason. Wet draft / through the doorframe / he coaxes me outside / and I stomp / all the way uphill. To an outsider / this tantrum looks like / joy / powder flies. He tries / to make a snowball. It’s so cold / the snow won’t hold. He presses harder. It dusts / his gloves. I tell him / you need a little heat / a little love to join snowflakes / into something more than / idiosyncrasies. I say / it’s too cold for this shit. He / bares a naked palm / a little love offering / scoops more snow / manages to eke out / a glittering globe
Someone from my high school / laughs at Dallas. Tweets / don’t these hicks know / to salt the roads / to shovel their driveways and drive slow. I never / had a snow day growing up. Not / one week without power / food / shelter. Even Austin / boils water. They shouldn’t / have voted for Trump, then / more hungry children in Texas than / people in Fayetteville. The South / is a web of folks trying / to get by and leaders / trying not to listen. Someone from my high school / will never travel / South of Iowa. Really / thinks red / states deserve this. I say / the cold can follow me / and my love and I / and the many who care / won’t stop working / to bring the thaw.
Mackenzie McGee is a writer and poet living in the Ozarks. She is a winner of the 2021 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. Her work has previously appeared in Porter House Review and is forthcoming in Coffin Bell and Alaska Quarterly Review. She is an MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas. Find her online at mackenziemcgee.com.