Dear Uncle Pudge,
I’ve been doing research about insects and came across one called the Antarctic midge. Its purple-black shell absorbs heat even while buried under snow. Its heart brews antifreeze instead of blood. It emerges and dies within days, and it got me thinking about the woman who committed suicide by stepping in front of your semi-truck.
How you hardly saw her. How it was twilight and snowing. How she’d been wandering through the sunflower farm along I-25, snapping icicles from dead stalks, collecting them in a knapsack. The note in her jacket pocket said she couldn’t stand the brutal weight of winter anymore. She must have seemed a ghost or a prophet in her white nightgown and though you broke and prayed you haven’t prayed since.
Is she still in your mind like water mid-freeze?
The midge quit growing wings because it couldn’t fly beyond the continent. They started building nests on tide pools, waiting for summer runoff to guide them to the ocean.
Picture a mound of soot. Now picture a thousand. Picture them being pummeled by the breakers.
A few months before I wrote this poem, a friend of mine told me about this condition called Apophenia, which is the human tendency to see patterns in random data. He’d been trying to use it for a poem of his own, but for some reason, passed it along to me. I write a lot about insects and had been obsessed with this midge for a long time, but didn’t know what to do with it. I took a road trip from Iowa to Colorado to visit family during a snowstorm, and saw a semi-truck jackknife and crash on the highway. When I arrived and told my father about it, he told me this story about my uncle and I immediately thought of the midge. When I remembered the title my friend gave me, I finally had the pieces for this poem to take shape.
Samuel Piccone is from Colorado. In 2016, he was the winner of the NC State Poetry Contest and the 8th Annual Nazim Hikmet Poetry Contest. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including, The Southeast Review, Nimrod International Journal, Flyway, and The MacGuffin. He received his M.F.A. in poetry from North Carolina State University and currently serves on the poetry staff at Raleigh Review.