Heat from the fireplace crawls past my feet, up my shins, over my bent knees, then directly to my paper cheeks. The air cools a bit when the dog walks between me and the fire. I feel drowsy enough to dream about hell after falling asleep here. As my eyelids pray, they come to rest on the old hatchet leaning against the brick. Its white paint has peeled almost entirely off the wooden handle, leaving the impression of spongy age. What can be hewn when held properly? The day never brightens above highway-gray.

Michigan's cycles secure me in a loop. November curls into the downward arc that will tuck me into the bottom of months. Coffee, sleep, coffee. Voiceless light. Shoreless seas of night. It is my only mission to forget about winter's duration in order to tread water today. And maybe tomorrow.

Blowing leaves come to rest amongst fallen brethren – a cartography of brown hands at peace after a few moments of freedom. I can't hear the birds singing. Therefore division. And loneliness. Through the dark, one follows the notes of light up ahead. What song of light do I live by? I curl up into the blanket, thankful to teachers who have taught more than they know. Gratitude / survival / repeat.

At last, October lets go. Love must win; there is no otherwise. I open the gate and watch it all pass through.