– Richard Krause
Driving through the Vermont winter, white, white snow all around. And the black, black bark of trees. The contrast goes deep inside. The black trees, the white snow. The branches reaching out stiff and creaking, I can hear the limbs when I stop. My breath I can see, the life is still there. My nose begins to lose sensation, grow numb, my fingers too. The white snow all around harkens, pulls, drags me back down Interstate 91, down I-95, down to the Cross Bronx Expressway exiting at Jerome Avenue, back ten winters ago. As frigid as Vermont that night under the el. It is past midnight, two or three in the morning. A thick blanket of snow covers everything, the roads are iced. I am taking my taxi in having pressed my luck already and not gotten stuck. My garage is only a few blocks ahead. At a red light there is a knocking on my cab window. An old black couple asks, can I take them over the Concourse. “No, I can’t make it,” I say, “up the hill.” They plead with me. “No, I have no snow tires,” and left them in the dead of night as immobile as the trees I now see every winter in Vermont squeaking in the frigid temperatures. Each black bough, each dark trunk brings back their overcoats, dots the landscape with the appearance of reaching out stiffly frozen, barely able to move like the couple that walked away ever so slowly from my yellow cab–yellow as the sun, yellow as a wheat field in autumn, yellow as the butter that I melted on the French toast I stuffed myself with at breakfast the next morning.
Richard Krause’s collection of fiction, Studies in Insignificance, was published by Livingston Press and his epigram collection, Optical Biases, was published by Eyecorner Press in Denmark. His writing has more recently appeared in The Alembic, J Journal, Hotel Amerika, Scapegoat Review, Red Savina Review, and The Long Story. He teaches at Somerset Community College in Kentucky. "Vermont Winter" is from his unpublished prose poem collection titled Observations East & West.