Author: William James

William James lives in Manchester, NH. His debut collection Rebel Hearts & Restless Ghosts is forthcoming from Timber Mouse Publishing. His writing has been published in Word Riot, The Bohemyth, and Potluck Magazine. He can also be found on Tumblr and Twitter.

Snow Day, February ’93

& we climbed up the hill behind the old school house
our shoes wrapped in bread bags, stuffed into rubber
boots, swaddled in layers of cotton-polyester blend
for warmth & thrift instead of fashion. The winter sun
glared down at us, threw bolts of bright ice glare, beamed
off the metal slide in the playground. We felt the wind
scrape its teeth across our faces as we trudged
to the highest peak we could find. Plastic sleds in tow,
greased on the bottom with cooking oil until they shined.
At the summit we took turns counting down from five
before we hurled ourselves with great speed to the snow pile
we’d built as a barrier against the highway. We slid so fast,
so often, wore a groove in the snow like a deep trench,
ignored the need to repair our barrier against the possibility
of death. I had one last run left in me before dinner time
& so I threw my body reckless down the pipeline worn
into melt by heat and friction. I was soaring or careening
at the speed of sound, too fast to hear the scream of speed
in my frostbitten ears, the low hum of traffic throbbing,
trucks blaring their angry horns as I skated across the asphalt,
& their brakes squealing, the tires’ chirping cough
leaving a long black streak in the gray pavement,
my sister’s worried face fading into fog, snow falling dry
like ash on her tongue.

Floodwatch
July 19th, 1996

Fourteen seasons lived before
the morning water came running
deep over the creek bed. It rained

the first 19 days of July
that year, and didn’t stop.
I built wading pools every summer,

stacked stones in rows. We kept
crawfish there. Trapped them
in murky pools so full of iron

the red never could wash
out of our clothes and hands.
It takes thirty-six feet of storm wash

to teach you the reason
they’re called mobile homes.
We shivered wet beneath

thin blankets. Drank cocoa
from Styrofoam cups while huddled
underneath the Red Cross tent.

I prayed my stone walls would trap
the water like crawfish, found terror
hidden in the falling sounds of rain.