FLASH ESSAY | I Pray for Cloudless Winter Nights
If there is snowfall or rainfall, my dad will be up in the madrugada shoveling salt onto the pavement. Slowly, one shovel-full at a time, spreading the salt evenly. God forbid he miss a corner or a crack between cement blocks where rain likes to pool and freeze. If someone slips and bruises, my dad could be fired. If my dad slips and bruises his back, oh well, it’s part of the job. My dad will have to withhold his whimper, pretend the pain storming down his spine is an itch to be tended to later. He’ll have to continue dumping salt onto the sidewalks as rain or snow continues to fall. He’ll have to do it quietly so as not to wake up the neighborhood, so that no one knows there was ice at night until they watch the morning news in the warmth of their living rooms. Quietly so no one knows someone had been up shoveling, shoveling, shoveling, stopping every now and then to sit in a car to regain feeling in cold toes, hands, and face. I imagine my dad getting tired of it all one day. I imagine him tossing his shovel aside, yelling at no one and everyone to salt their own damn sidewalks. I imagine him standing there, still, winter stealing his warm breath from him. I imagine him picking up his shovel and returning to work. What choice does he have? One shovel-full at a time. By morning my dad is gone—the streets salted, the sun rising out of the horizon, the neighborhood peeking out their window blinds and seeing a trail of footsteps in snow that will soon be disappeared by the day’s snowfall.
Moisés R. Delgado is a Latinx writer from the Midwest. He is an MFA candidate at the University of Arizona, and the nonfiction editor of Sonora Review. You can read his prose in X-R-A-Y Lit, The Pinch, Passages North, Homology Lit, and elsewhere. Moisés can often be found dancing on the moon.
Photograph by Alex Caza