Please bring in your cats and dogs, your pets. The weather is fierce, and so many animals are killed by exposure. All over this country, dogs are chained to trees, or chained in kennels that have no real protection from the elements. Here in the south, the brutality and ignorance towards animals is horrendous. Even an official with the Atlanta Humane Society years ago told me that ‘dogs don’t mind sleeping on concrete, they don’t need shelter’. The jackass. I wish I could chain him on concrete for a night. He might reconsider when his joints freeze.
We heat with a woodburning stove. Our nine cats call a truce and all sleep on a wool blanket in front of the stove. We are expecting some form of snow this Sunday night. Tuesday we are expecting 6 degrees in the morning…and it’s not going to get beyond freezing for days. Though I love Winter, and the possibilites of snow, it is hard on animals who don’t have proper shelter. Make sure yours do.
I returned to the old house,
now still, vacant,
staring with unshaded eyes
upon a snowy front garden,
shrubs overgrown with the
lustiness of summer and neglect
now split to the ground,
taxed with a heavy snow.
I tried to light the parlor stove,
old cranky cast iron smoker
clanking and rattling
when heated in the best of times
now given up the ghost,
cold metal unyielding to wadded paper
and an old mouse nest.
The silence of the rooms only broken
by hissing wind whipping around eaves
rattling old bones in the attic,
stirring the haunts sleeping in corners.
It took a time for twigs to catch,
the water to turn coffee,
bacon and eggs brought from the city
and cooked in an old iron skillet–
tasting far better in the country air.
I looked down at hands cracked
in the brittle winter light,
hair static with electricity,
feet numbed from the chill,
that woodstove not giving up
more heat than a miser.
I walked down to Olsen’s pond,
looked through the glassine surface
remembered the boy who had fallen
through the ice while playing hockey–
slipped under the thin cover, disappearing
without a sound,
only noticed when our puck flew
Up in the air and he, the guard, missing.
We skated to the edge, threw bodies flat
trying to reach him just out of catch,
crying like babies, snot running down chins,
knowing he was floating just under the ice,
silent as the lamb he was.
Childhood ended that day for most of us.
We started to drift away to the city,
our skates and sticks put up,
Olsen’s pond deserted like a haunted minefield.
Fifty years ago I still remember that day
when stretched as far as I could
my belly freezing on treacherous ice,
grasping to reach a life just out of sight,
his muffler and stick floating to the surface–
The boy, the important part,
gone for good from a chilly winter ‘s play.
Copyrighted, 2009, 2012, 2014
“Olsen’s Pond” previously published in “A Seasoning of Lust”, available at Lulu.com