Adrift Heart of the February Runner

February drifts by in cool gray waves of nothingness.

Numbness in fingers and toes,  the absence of blood. Dullness of mind, the result of exhaustion. Quiet heart, lost somewhere among winter birches, the peeling bark nearly imperceptible against the colorless landscape.

Hungover from recent bursts- of family time, both blood and chosen, that sent sparks into long December and January nights; of the roaring thrill of re-achieving running milestones; of talking and love and planning for the future. Today the future is February. The in-between. Goalless, waiting, hoping. Knee is whispering. Foot whining. Brain too tired of the worrying to be angry.

Crossing fingers, lacing up shoes, zipping vests against the chill of this dragging month. This uncertainty. This weakness.

The blue fog of a wrung-out winter creature, hiding in her own cold forest. The safety of familiar lonely trees. Resignation as she sighs back against their hard trunks, waiting.

Fumbling for fruit.

Searching with glassy eyes for pinpricks in the dark.

Crawling toward hot water and thick blankets like a blind mouse beneath the snowpack. 

Tinny rings at 4am.

Sitting up. Compression socks on.

Tights pulled over legs, sleeves pulled over arms, gloves pulled over hands, bands pulled over ears; thin protection for the skin of the warmth-chaser.

Shoes laced up. 

Icy wet morning on flyaway hair, icy wet sweat on skin.

Protecting the little fire, the shrunken flame; it is just enough.

Preserving the most vulnerable part.

Shoes laced up, vests zipped. Fingers numb. Heart hiding.

Searching for stars above the birches.

Curled inward, waiting for the return.