“Olsen’s Pond”

Snowfall 2017 Dec 3

Some great poetry over at dverspoets.com.  Come read and enjoy!

Returning to the old house,

now still, vacant,

staring with unshaded eyes

upon a snowy front garden,

shrubs overgrown with the

lustiness of summer

now split to the ground

taxed with a heavy snow.


I tried to light the parlor stove,

cranky old 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.


Now the silence of the rooms

broken by hissing wind

whipping around  eaves

rattling old bones in the attic,

stirring the haunts asleep in  corners.


It took time for twigs to catch

water turn to coffee

bacon, eggs brought from the city

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 cold

the woodstove not giving

more heat than an ice cube.


Walking down to Olsen’s pond,

Looking through the glassine surface

remembering the boy who had fallen

through while playing hockey

slipping under thin ice,

disappearing without a sound,

only noticed when our puck flew

High in the air
and he, the guard, missing.


We skated to the edge, threw bodies flat

trying to catch him just out of reach,

crying like babies, snot running down chins,

knowing he was floating just under the ice–

silenced like the lamb he was.


Childhood ended that day.

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

stretched as far as I could

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, 2018





Tags: , , , ,

35 Responses to ““Olsen’s Pond””

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    What a truly chilling tale… a memory like that would haunt me forever… I spend quite a lot of time on ice in winter, but i wait until it’s solid enough…. I will have nightmares about being trapped under ice like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kim881 Says:

    A beautifully detailed, sad story, Jane.
    I love the contrast in the lines:
    ‘shrubs overgrown with the
    lustiness of summer
    now split to the ground
    taxed with a heavy snow’
    and the description of trying to light the ‘cranky old smoker. with the ‘wadded paper / and an old mouse nest’. I also like the way you evoke the draughts in the house::
    ‘rattling old bones in the attic,
    stirring the haunts asleep in corners’.
    The poem shifts so easily from the house to the pond and to the past, ending with the shocking accident.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Frank J. Tassone Says:

    Devastating and beautiful, Jane. The narrator sounds haunted, still.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Frank. The narrator is, still.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Kim. I had hoped you would be able to read this. I thought you could relate to this ‘type’ of poetry. And heating a woodstove. LOL! Thank you, Kim.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Enigma Says:

    This poem chilled me to the bone, so descriptive I can feel the writers feelings.
    So sad and dark, but beautiful still.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ladynyo Says:

    A slice of life, Bjorn, in the rural counties where I grew up. Some things in childhood are elevated by happening to the haunting stage. Probably many things and many more are suppressed in our growing minds. Childhood, back then, was not like it is now. Death, though to be avoided, was pretty common amongst most species. And sometimes our own. Thank you, Bjorn for reading this poem.


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Enigma. For reading “Olsen’s Pond” and for sending such a empathetic comment. I am very thankful.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Frank J. Tassone Says:

    I feared as much. Much love to you, Jane.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. ladynyo Says:

    Well, we have the balm of distance to tend to these things. And we can make poetry of them, which is the blessing and the antidote to ghosts. Maybe. Much love to you, Frank. A new year…..

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Frank J. Tassone Says:

    Indeed! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. kim881 Says:

    Our log burner is blazing at the moment and we are feeling a bit overheated! There isn’t much wind so I’m not sure why the chimney is drawing so well, even when it’s all shut down. Perhaps I’m just a firestarter! 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Arcadia Maria Says:

    Wow. A chilling tale indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Enigma Says:

    Your welcome, it was beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Victoria C. Slotto Says:

    Ah, geez. Such a disheartening memory of a special place that must have brought joy (the house, that is) sometime in the past. Your details were vivid, the house and the stove personified in a way. I loved this, sad is it was. I have a memory of a childhood friend that haunts me in the same way. I don’t know if I could tell the story as well as you. I have tried to, in prose.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. purplepeninportland Says:

    So many vivid images in this haunting piece.


  17. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, for reading and your comment.


  18. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Victoria. Perhaps the trick is distance and time….and the fading of the horrors? I don’t know but the house was mine as I grew up in the wilds of rural NJ. The winters were always with something happening. Thankfully, this was rare. The blessing (and therapy …) for us is that we are poets….and we can use these things, good, bad and haunting in our work. I think this poem was the first that I realized how therapuetic poetry could be…. Thank you, Victoria. I’ll be over tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Arcadia Maria. A slice of life in the past.


  20. ladynyo Says:

    It’s drizzling here and the woodstove takes the chill out of the house. We are the keepers of the woodstoves, but I think they own us, not the other way around! LOL! And i think women make better fires in them then men.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Truedessa Says:

    This is a gripping tale filled with sadness. I imagine it would be hard to carry this memory through the years. It is not something one would ever forget. Your attention to details really take the reader there to Olsen’s Pond.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. kim881 Says:

    I agree. I am the one who stacks the logs, lays and lights the fire, and then keeps it going. I am the god of hell fire…

    Liked by 1 person

  23. petrujviljoen Says:

    I remember commenting on this poem before, which you answered, but I don’t see it? WP has been dumping stuff in the spam folders again?

    Liked by 1 person

  24. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Truedessa. You are right on all counts.


  25. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! Goddess of Hell Fire~ Yeah, I pretend to sleep at 4am and he will get up and tend the fire but I think this is what women through the centuries did. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. ladynyo Says:

    Possibily….but i posted it again for OLN as people that I wanted to read this didn’t before. A blitzkreeg of “Olsen’s Pond”. Thank you, Petru.


  27. petrujviljoen Says:

    Very well written.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Petru. I keep reading this over and over and over. The trauma never leaves.


  29. petrujviljoen Says:

    It never will. One just learn to be with it without being overwhelmed by it so very much. I’ve no advice Jane. In this writing however I think you may have found a measure of healing. Be well. Please.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. ladynyo Says:

    You’re right. It’s time and distance and the fading of brain cells that makes it…..well, writing…it certainly gives topic for writing. Healing comes but slowing…if ever. Thanks, sweetie. We all have these to carry through life.


  31. petrujviljoen Says:

    We do. Again – be as well as can be.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Grace Says:

    What a terrible tragedy…I will be haunted for years of that scene, filled with what ifs….


  33. ladynyo Says:

    What ifs seem to be the stuffings of most lives. Thank you, Grace for reading and your comment.


  34. Ayala Says:

    Hello my friend. A powerful share here.


  35. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Ayala! Thank you for reading and your comment. Good to read you!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: