“Olsen’s Pond” from “White Cranes of Heaven”


Thank You, Laura Hegfield, “Shine The Divine”, for the “Where  Beauty Grows”…inspiring blogs award. http://orli-shines.blogspot.com


 Olsen’s Pond


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,

moisture gone,  

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 .


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009,2012 


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24 Responses to ““Olsen’s Pond” from “White Cranes of Heaven””

  1. Steve Elsaesser Says:

    What a powerful remembrance…we noticed him missing when our puck flew through the air and our guard was not there.

    What a story…and I FEEL THAT COLD, it’s going through my bones right now, even though temp is 72 F.
    And the ice
    And the tepid flame for our warmth
    And that Ummmmm! Breakfast
    You dome GOOD, Lady NYO
    You are one-of-a-kind.
    It’s an honor to read you…and know you.
    Steve E


  2. ladynyo Says:


    You are so kind. These things happen to some of us, and they impact upon our lives forever.

    Silence of the lamb he was…..

    Thank you, Steve, for reading “Olsen’s Pond” and for your lovely comment.




  3. katiewritesagain Says:

    Memories, triggered by still images, can be as painful and sudden as that thin ice breaking. Your poem speaks to the unknown,the shadows in life that can reach out and change everything. Yet the images are still and cold and somehow beautiful.


  4. ladynyo Says:


    Yes, the shadows, the darkness in life can teach us so much….the path of via Negativa, something I am learning about…our fear of darkness, mystery, the unknown, IF we be still and listen…in silence…we can be enriched …taught much about ourselves and the Universe.

    Thank you, Katie, for reading and your insightful comment.



  5. C.L. Sostarich Says:

    Masterfully done poem Jane. The lost life is foreshadowed well in the miserly stove and lonely neglected place. I am caught up with the feelings that you have conveyed so honestly.


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Carly!
    This was written two (?) years ago before I had any notion of contrast or whatever is poetic form, and sometimes you just allow it to develop because of ‘high passion’. I guess.

    I think, with poetry, and probably other forms of literature, we can get overly self-conscious? perhaps we lose something then….perhaps a naivete or honesty that is submerged under the ice.

    This (in part) is a scene from childhood….so many decades now gone. The house, the desertedness of it all….

    Our lives, sometimes…are formed from such tragedies.

    Thank you, Carly…for reading and your lovely comment.



  7. Elizabeth Young Says:

    This is so incredibly powerful, it has simply blown me away today. This is poetry at it’s absolute finest, setting carefully the scene of a memory in all its detail, then telling a story so powerful, so tragic, it became part of you and is still worth the telling so many years later. Thank you so very much for sharing this magnificent piece today.


  8. brian miller Says:

    ugh…heavy story…heavy memory to carry the stick floating to the surface but no boy….you set it up nicely in the description of place…and then knock the breath out of me a bit…


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Brian….yeah, that end event does have some power of ‘shock’. Tragedy always does..

    Thank you, Brian, for reading and your insightful comment.



  10. ladynyo Says:

    Wow, Elizabeth!

    You give me way too much credit of introspection. LOL!. I am quite blown away by your praise, dear friend.

    We all have memories or some such construction from our childhoods/ past, that we use for some of our poetry, neh?

    Thank you so much, Elizabeth. I think your words are the kindest I have ever received on a poem.

    Thank you, again.



  11. wayside word garden Says:

    Wow… this piece just blew me away; I was drawn in, it is full of so many wonderful lines and stunning imagery… it started with the “unshaded eyes” and kept on going…. loved it. Beautiful (albeit very tragic) story. Also, the photograph is perfect. Thank you for sharing this.


  12. Teresa Says:

    Chilling story. Your use of detail really brings the tragedy home.


  13. Joanne Elliott (@soulsprite) Says:

    Sad memories, the kind that are a turning point in one’s life make for powerful art. This is a powerful piece. Well done!


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Joanne~! Thank you so much for reading and your comment.

    I don’t have a twitter account and can’t respond on your work, but I really admire your work.

    thanks again.



  15. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Teresa, for reading and your comment.



  16. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Anna, for reading and your comment.



  17. Laura Hegfield Says:

    Beautiful Jane, as always. Thank you so much for your email the other day. I hope you will forgive me for not replying, it has been a busy week!! Please stop by my blog, I have something waiting there for you:-)


  18. ladynyo Says:

    I will, Laura,
    and thank you for reading and your comment.



  19. kimolisa Says:

    Beautifully written, I’m speechless in how much I liked this. Simply beautiful.


  20. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment, Kimolisa. I like Winter poems as they draw me to deeper contemplation.

    Lady Nyo


  21. ayala Says:

    Jane, heartbreaking memories…beautifully written.


  22. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Ayala!

    Thank you so much for reading “Olsen’s Pond” and for your lovely comment.



  23. Gay Says:

    What a fine, fine write, Jane. This is your voice always thoughtful, giving us the image with powerful verbs and nouns. Nothing ornate, nothing sentimental – just the sight, the quiet, the loss. So understated and therefore so poignant. You, yes quite the master of the form! Excellent!!


  24. ladynyo Says:

    Dear Gay!

    I have to laugh! “Master of the Form”??? Me??? LOLL!

    Gay, I am too new to poetry (only 5 years total) to be master of anything poetical…but I THANK YOU very much for such a compliment and praise.

    Sometimes I think that these poems, as for all of us poets, come from some deep place, calm, quietly without any real conscious knowledge of how they are constructed….in fact, they construct themselves as if we are just on-lookers…from something of memory, tragedy, childhood, angst, grief, etc. Perhaps because of the strong events, emotions, we have to ‘give over’ the construction of these poems because we make a hash of them when we try to direct the load….???

    It’s this ‘inner eye’ that someone once said …and I think you know very well what I am talking about…you also do this, and I think when you do, your poetry has a deeper, otherworldly effect on the readers.

    Thank you, Gay….this was one of my first poems, about 3 years ago, and I didn’t have any knowledge of anything poetical! LOL! Perhaps when we DO begin to be self-conscious about these things, we stumble around a lot.



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