Letter From Fairbanks

James B. Nicola

You know the old expressions ‘white as snow’
and ‘cold as ice.’ But wintertime in Fair-
banks, long dark hours and 30+ below
for weeks on end, I’m hard pressed to compare
to anything you know or think you know.

It’s as if coldness were invented here.

Some folks, to thwart the endlessness of night,
gather for group activities—bingo
or poker, indoor sports or putting on
a play (preferred are comedies and light
opera). Some drop by the Bard-a-thon
to read a role or listen to Shakespeare.

Some call on neighbors, make sure they’re all right.

The sudden dinner party that you throw,
one of your guests suggesting you invite
the cabiner, might save a soul alone.
Some people put on ‘happy lights,’ which glow
like day. And then there’s the phenomenon
called Northern Lights, which don’t alleviate
the darkness, but may likewise compensate.
I’ve stayed up every night to watch and wait,

but Fairbanks has been overcast of late.


About the Author

James B. Nicola’s poetry and prose have appeared in Lowestoft Chronicle; the Antioch, Southwest Review, Green Mountains Review, and Atlanta Review; Rattle; Barrow Street; Tar River; and Poetry East, garnering two Willow Review awards, a Dana Literary award, and six Pushcart nominations. His full-length collections are Manhattan Plaza (2014), Stage to Page (2016), Wind in the Cave (2017), Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (2018) and Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond (2019). His nonfiction book, Playing the Audience, won a Choice award. A Yale graduate, he is facilitator for the Hell's Kitchen International Writers' Roundtable at Manhattan's Columbus Library: walk-ins welcome. sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola.