Outside a Pittsburgh window
coal’s sour smokiness
rose from chimneys
to lay gray strata bands
on drifts of whitish snow.
Inside, the child’s mother
boiled cabbage and potatoes
that steamed glass windows,
dewed cold walls damp,
interfered with breath.
The child raised a window sash.
“Shut it. You’ll catch your death.”
Hesitation. She balanced negatives…
tested them for strength
and locked the window closed.
Then…she inhaled faint purple fragrance
where African violets bloomed
on the window ledge.
She pinched their fleshy leaves
with forefinger and thumb…
stroked their dark green velvet…
imagined herself flowering in Africa
deep-rooted in loam beneath a baobab…
imagined Mount Kilimanjaro
cloud-topped across vast savanna…
a snow leopard in the yard.