After three hours of attempted sleep, I slide out of all three sleeping bags that burrito my body. I haven’t seen the skin on anywhere but my face and hands in two weeks. I thrust my arms into the down jacket, my hair gets caught in the zipper and I don’t fix it. The cold widens my eyes and rips my back. I crawl out of the tent. My pants hang loose on my hips and standing feels taxing. My Nalgene is frozen solid. It snowed again last night.
The sun’s light is pale this early, the Whites are frosted lavender. Soon they will be pink, soon Mt. Tom will be on fire, soon the sun will rise and thaw the stars. I’ve looked at this boulder a million times, how it’s perched, and this morning I decide to run to it. My boots make for a slow pace and my lungs are stiff as they gulp the early air. Razors in my nose, glass in my throat. It’s further away than it looks and I want to be back in my sleeping bag, in all three sleeping bags. My exhales are puffs of dense smoke, the air is perfumed with campfire from last night. I keep running. Through the sage, through the tableland. Soon I’ll be back in the city, soon my skin will grow soft, soon it will be spring.
I reach the boulder and paste my boots on its slabby face, claw my way up and sit on the peak. Dangle my legs over the side. The snow falls off of my boots in chunks as I click my heels together three times. I face east and my body is warmed from running, warmed from the sun that’s higher now, it shoots a string of clementines over the horizon like a rosary. I reach up for one of the fruits and pull it toward me, the entire band arches in the sky. I press my thumb into its skin, start to rip away its peel. The orange is golden, bursting with cold juice but it’s fibrous, its seeds huddle for comfort.
It’s like an ovary, its nectar spills over my palm and drips to the ground, fanning across the land shortening the shadows. The earth starts to breathe again.