Dear Winter,

You hold the prints of my terrier dog Socks, the dog of my son’s childhood who died after the ice storm of 2007. You held her prints for a week after she was gone. I still remember walking by them when I went around the house. They were in the dark place where the sun doesn’t reach beneath the southern edge of the carport. You didn’t take her, but I will always remember when she left because of that path you kept after she was gone. You are a season for imprints.
Yesterday, Winter, I walked up the meadow path and jumped the divide where the creek runs. Clifford stopped to get a drink, and I saw the deer tracks surrounding him. A red dog making his own prints in the spongy earth and the prints of the deer that had been here in the night circling him. In the muddiest parts of the path the deer prints continued toward my house. I imagine them in the night somewhere near my bedroom in their quiet wandering.
Years ago, I was walking an empty river bed and found a rectangular rock with a print fossiled in it–a racooon perhaps. The small triangular pads sunk into the sandstone are the impossible reminder of the ancient. The rock is on my porch banister. Sometimes I touch it when I’m leaving or coming home. Sometimes, I notice my own walking. Everywhere exists the things we leave behind.
Always,
Shaun
NOTE: This piece was written for an online creative writing class I facilitated. The prompt was to write a letter to winter. I was thinking of my dogs, past and present, this  morning, so I decided to post it. It’s a prose poem.

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