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For M and K

Frozen branches of barren birch
cast blue-grey shadows
on the Long Trail, blanketed white.
Trees encased in ice and snow,
shimmer against cobalt.

Cheeks red, ruddy. Our noses,
eyes, sting and drip; tiny hairs
now miniature icicles.
Still, our bodies warm as we climb.
We peel layers, swiftly stuff
them into backpacks.
Pause only a moment
to sip ice-cold water.

Winter hikers, a secret society,
uninterrupted, meditative,
intrepid. Passing others
we share stiff smiles
from frigid faces, a knowing nod.
Silent, but for our breath,
the crunch of snowshoes.

Our hiking sticks stab at drifts,
create crevices that
glow blue. Sunlight hits
ice crystals, twinkling
like fairy dust. Mesmerized,
we ignore reason—believe
instead the magic
of four degrees above zero.

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