I Followed Lydia into the Great Thaw by Shelby Tuthill

I came upon Lydia in the garden, plucking her one-eyed cat’s glass
eyeball from the soil. Flakes from the white winter
were burrowing into the ground, into the blood-
stream of the earth. Bluebells reflected in her eyes.
Twigs snapped beneath her footsteps. I hadn’t seen her since the snow
sang whistling hymnals at the mail slot. I hadn’t seen her

since the snow. Lydia bent over among the infant crocuses, and I knew her
from the golden hair, the cat-like arch in her back, the way she sidestepped the glass
of broken green bottles in the woodchips. Her mouth rang with snow.
Her words fell gently into the dead grass. I knew she would taste of winter,
and I kept my lips to myself, even covered my eyes
to keep her blue gaze at bay. I bit my lip and tasted blood

instead of winter. It was warmer, and red as a strawberry. Blood
dripped from the corner of my mouth and she siphoned it into a vial she kept with her
on a necklace beneath her blouse. I cursed her wild, ice-laden eyes
for stopping the flow of blood. I thought of plucking a shard of glass
from the garden, drawing out iron again just to stop myself craving the taste of winter
trapped in the coming of spring. I could be satiated by a mouthful of graying snow,

but only for a little while. I knew Lydia, how she tasted of the freshest snow,
the kind laid out like a blanket by the last moths of December, snow unstained by blood
and tire tracks. I was born on the cursed edge of winter;
she was born as the sun drained the ground of frost. It suits her.
Get too close to the sun and she will melt you into stained glass.
Get too close to the sun and she will love you until she’s burned your eyes.

I spent a winter quietly begging for the sun to return and touch my eyes
with warmth and wonder (some might call this a prayer). I prayed to the snow,
the hard ground, the walls of my bedroom, the crack in the glass
of my window which let in snowflakes one at a time. I prayed to my own blood-
stream to keep me alive long enough to find her
once more in the garden as the birds come north again when the winter

falls into rain. I stepped out of my house and ran to the end of the winter
where I found her, crawling alongside the great thaw, a rabbit-look in her eyes.
There was a dead sparrow on the pavement, and I could have sworn it saw her
in its glassy eyes; it shook its damp feathers and emerged from the last of the snow,
spreading its small brown wings and taking off, leaving a delicate trail of blood.
She moved softly toward me then, as if through a pane of frosted glass.

I could see her brand new, unchanged by the darkest winter,
pockets full of summer sea glass the color of her eyes
after crying out all the snow. Listening to the rhythm of my blood.

Shelby Tuthill is a psychology student at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. Her creative nonfiction pieces have been published at Human Parts, a subset of medium.com, and she is thrilled to have her first published poem right here. She learned about sestinas last year and hasn’t stopped writing them since.

What has she lost that she’d most like to be reunited with? “At the moment, I would most like to be reunited with my wallet, which is likely buried in the snow somewhere between my house and my favorite brunch spot. No matter how I retrace my steps, it won’t resurface.”

Art — Philip King lives with his partner, cat, and two plants in Portland, Oregon. He is in the process of editing his first novel and creating his first graphic novel, and his work has been featured in the Portland State University VanguardPathos Literary MagazineAnnex Zine, and Literary Brushstrokes. He has displayed work at the Saatchi Gallery in London, England, the Todd Art Gallery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and in Portland at the AB Gallery, the MK Gallery, the Sugar Cube, St. Johns Racquet Center, the Littman Gallery, Synesthesia Festival, NextNorthwest, Splendorporium, and the Holocene. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Practices from Portland State University in 2016.