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About this poet

Janet McNally is the author of Some Girls (White Pine Press, 2015), winner of the 2014 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. She received an MFA in fiction from the University of Notre Dame and two New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships in fiction. She teaches creative writing at Canisius College and lives in Buffalo, New York.

Maggie Says There’s No Such Thing as Winter

If you believe in snow, you have to believe
in water as it’s meant to be, loosed

from clouds arranged like asphodel. Because that’s
what it’s like to come back: a slow

surfacing, memory spiraling away. You can sleep
so long, whole seasons are forgotten

like hospital-room plaster, spidered
with cracks in Portugal shapes. You can love

sleep like water, love your heavy limbs
pushing river and ocean aside.

After Maggie woke the doctors had her stringing
bracelets of semiprecious beads, and she

couldn’t stop counting the kinds of blue.
Here, summer, in the high shade of a gingko,

she pulls up a handful of stones on silk
and we drink grapefruit seltzer, listening

to the tinny chime of bubbles
rising to the air. She can’t remember

autumn, so we tell her someday this tree will drop
its fan-shaped leaves all at once,

golden in the October crush
of every plant’s frantic strip show. Later

we’ll see mountains through the scrim of empty
branches, and if we want we can look straight up

into the atmosphere, see the same plain old sky
revolving. When we ask Maggie what color it is

she always says iolite, picturing beads
like raindrops, shining azure on the table.

She forgets that sometimes things don’t stay
where you leave them, that the sky fades

to white even before snow begins to
fall. It’s hard, but we have to tell her

even sapphires don’t glow blue
without some kind of help.

"Maggie Says There’s No Such Thing as Winter" from Some Girls by Janet McNally © 2015. Used with permission of White Pine Press.

"Maggie Says There’s No Such Thing as Winter" from Some Girls by Janet McNally © 2015. Used with permission of White Pine Press.

Janet McNally

Janet McNally is the author of Some Girls (White Pine Press, 2015), winner of the 2014 White Pine Press Poetry Prize.