Peppercorns in the Snow

Waiting for the lifts to the Shawnee ski slopes, I can't help
but thank my mask and goggles. While the summer's oat-
like terrains drift across the rim of snow, frost fattens
the bare branches woven against the mountain sides. Inside
my goggles, fog swathes my view, and the droplets
of my own breath     perish above my lips, caged in the white

of the mask. But I relish the way they shield over my
face. Maybe it's because of the swelling grease bumping
against my pained     skin like a ripe ClĂ©mentine.

And maybe that's the reason why years ago I named myself
after a fruit when my teacher said my name didn't sound French enough. Or maybe it's
because these lanes of skiers reflect

images of lunchtime at school with the Korean girls who remind me of crimson peppercorns,
sinking to the bottom of a grinder, holding the weight        of the rest as gravity colors the

into stripes. And I fear  that if any of my gears were to fall off,
the children and their parents would inch     away, or my back
would be set on fire like the Chinese grandmother in New York. So

for now, I drift along the wires of the lifts and gaze at the snowflakes
riddling through my view.

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