Walking in Winter

Talking to myself inside my head,
Not dressed for the weather,
But warm enough to make it I guess,
Even though I don’t quite know
Where I aim to go.
Wheels on wet pavement
Underneath a clearing sky
That reveals the moon
Every now and again.
Footsteps crunch
On sidewalks with dirty snow.
Thought it would have melted by now.
At last off the street
Into the warmth of a place
That smells like beer
With TVs on and feet on the rail
And a bartender who told me his name.
I can’t remember it.
And the first drink is always the best one,
But that doesn’t stop me from having a few,
‘Cause there’s nothing else to do
But more walking in winter,
Which is what I have ahead
When I pay the tab
And head out the door
Past the empty parking spaces
Up and down Biltmore Avenue,
And I begin to visualize
My front room
And the warmth that’ll hit my face
After I’ve climbed the steps
And turned the key.
The lights are on,
And everything’s the way I left it
When I stepped outside,
Unable to stand the silence.
If I had to be alone, I guessed,
I figured it would be best
To have my solitude
In sight of the people I’d pass
Here and there
Going who knows where,
Walking in winter,
Some arm-in-arm with others.
And I still remember
How it feels to be together
Yet estranged,
And it was plain to see
If I’d had the courage to look
And face the truth
About the coming change
That would arrive one day
When enough pressure built up
To blow the lid off
And expel us into separate lives,
Hers in the house
That compels me to detour
Two or three blocks to miss the street
That would be on the shorter route,
Walking in winter.
Wishing for leaves on the trees
And warm summer breezes
That will eventually return,
And everything will sound different
Than it does tonight
With the windows closed
To seal out the cold
For the hibernation
With yellow glow on the other side of glass
As the wind blows
And I zip up my leather jacket,
Put my hands back in my pockets,
And feel my ears burn,
A Southern man who never learns
What to wear while
Walking in winter.

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