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

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 numb from the chill,

the woodstove not giving

more heat than an icicle.


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,

silenced as the lamb he was.


Childhood ended that day for most of us.

We drifted 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 day.



Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

“Olsen’s Pond” was first published in “Seasoning of Lust”, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2009, by Lulu.com.  Later this poem was published in “Pitcher of Moon” also by Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2014, Createspace, Amazon.com






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5 Responses to “Olsen’s Pond”

  1. Liras Says:

    Wow. That was powerful. Thanks for sharing with us.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Liras! So good to hear from you. Hope you are well. That poem was an early one….about 07 I believe….but I can think of revisions…..But childhood can bring great tragedies that follow us through life.

    Thank you for reading and your comment, Liras. Love from here!


  3. Liras Says:

    Same to you, Jane Jane!!


  4. phoartetry Says:

    Jane, in this poem, you speak to the reader in away that draws one into your world, allowing us to see through your eyes: the old house, Olsen’s pond in winter, and your memory of that horrific event you experienced fifty years ago. The desperation you must have felt trying to save your friend. It felt as though I was standing there in a clift of a rock and seeing, helplessly, a dark shadow passing by, as your childhood ended that day. Such an unfortunate tragedy you experience that day. A powerful and strong poem you wrote Jane.

    Is the photo above your poem one of your watercolor painting? If it is, it’s amazing and very impressive. and goes very well with your poem. And if it is, just a suggestion, indicate, that you painted it.



  5. ladynyo Says:

    Nope….not my painting….old Dutch painting…forget who. Thank you, Connie….But fortunately, this is not my childhood experience. Olsen’s Pond is true place in my rural upbringing, but it’s just a poem. Thankfully.


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