pages Oregon Snow

by Kirby Wright

Published in Issue No. 274 ~ March, 2020

A truck with Oregon plates arrives in San Diego at dusk. When the driver slides open the cargo door, his Christmas trees are coated with lumps of snow and sheets of ice. There’s so much white he imagines an artificial forest smothered in flocking spray.

“How’d this happen?” asks Home Depot man.

The driver tucks his hands in the kangaroo pocket of his sweatshirt. “Forgot to close that damn vent,” he mutters.

The driver climbs on the bumper, grabs a chain hanging from the roof, and swings up. He shakes branches—white tumbles onto the steel bed. He digs in a blade and shovels snow and ice into the parking lot. A mogul forms. Kids gather. Most are boys but there are twin sisters. They grab the cold and shape without gloves. Snowballs sail through the half-light and splatter on asphalt. A few fathers join in. One father under-hands a snowball that bounces off his wife’s head.

“Wanna play rough, eh?” she giggles and retaliates with ice.

The driver enjoys this unexpected winter. A boy leaps over the mogul and others follow. The snow and ice don’t seem to melt. The driver’s happy his vent was open as he churned through the passes north of Eugene. The evergreen smell reminds him of home. He feels like a boy again.

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Kirby Wright was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu and the University of California at San Diego. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Wright has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and is a past recipient of the Jodi Stutz Memorial Prize in Poetry, the Ann Fields Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Award, the Robert Browning Award for Dramatic Monologue, and Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowships in Poetry and The Novel. BEFORE THE CITY, his first poetry collection, took First Place at the 2003 San Diego Book Awards. Wright is also the author of the companion novels PUNAHOU BLUES and MOLOKA’I NUI AHINA, both set in Hawaii. He was a Visiting Fellow at the 2009 International Writers Conference in Hong Kong, where he represented the Pacific Rim region of Hawaii. He was also a Visiting Writer at the 2010 Martha’s Vineyard Residency in Edgartown, Mass., and the 2011 Artist in Residence at Milkwood International, Czech Republic. His futuristic novel THE END, MY FRIEND was published in 2013. He published SQUARE DANCING AT THE ASYLUM, a collection of flash fiction, in 2014.