Disappointment: A New Year’s Quartet


By Kateri Kosek

Your thin flute of disappointment ushers me from last year
into this one, finding
all the crevices.

Its notes mere background now, like traffic, like
the absence
of birds
these winter mornings.

Enough, I say. Be quiet. It’s a New Year.
We’ve finally gotten what we wanted—
Cold winds draw tears. Nights are warm if I want them to be.
We can keep out of love for two weeks, tops.
We can pretend we have everything we need.

This morning I read, Ice fishing derby cancelled due to insufficient ice.

Later, down the road, some fishermen have set up on the river’s
frozen outskirts—a lawn chair, the folding kind with cup holders for beer.
Circles etched onto ice, little orange flags atop the holes they have made.
The river a skin marked out for surgery.

All you have to do is
not want me, tell me I can’t.

From the bridge, the river’s steady load: ice floes, PCBs, a lone merganser I spook into flight.
Just out of sight, the hill where last March, a 26-year-old went out one night to check his maple
taps and never came back. His mother found him in the morning. They imagined disorientation,
hypothermia. A friend wonders about the PCBs; he ate so many ducks. He was clinging to a tree,
had stripped off clothes, like those explorers whose Arctic adventures ended badly. He was
trying to live off the land.

South of here, the snow hits hard.
I am disappointed, agree with a friend who says
Cold without snow feels unfair. I should be
more grateful for the storms that just miss us.
For the bowl that almost breaks, but doesn’t.
I should at least bring the lawn chairs in.

In the near dark, someone’s wind chimes are going crazy,
an off-key riff flung at the edge of a storm.


Kateri Kosek’s poetry and essays have appeared in Orion, Creative Nonfiction, Terrain, and other journals. She teaches college English and mentors in the MFA program at Western Connecticut State University. She’s been a resident at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska, and lives in western Massachusetts.