Posts Tagged ‘ 2011 published’

“Olsen’s Pond”, a poem answering Victoria C. Slotto’s prompt

June 21, 2012

 Victoria C. Slotto over on has issued a prompt on Place and Setting in Poetry.  Below are her words, though she goes on to describe other devices answering to this intriguing prompt.  They can be found on today’s

Place and Setting in Poetry

“As writers of poetry, I believe we have the opportunity to allow readers to travel places they have never been, to revisit places that are familiar or to share experiences they may never have, thus evoking memories or heightening awareness.
Today, I’d like to consider how we, as poets (or writers of prose) use setting or a sense of place as a poetic device.”

(quoted from Victoria Slotto, on today’s prompt at

I am submitting my poem “Olsen’s Pond” written a few years ago, because I believe it does answer to one or probably more of these devices Victoria mentions.

Lady Nyo


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 giving up the ghost,

cold metal unyielding to wadded paper

and an old mouse nest.

The silence of the rooms were broken

by hissing wind whipping around  eaves

rattling old bones in the attic,

stirring the haunts sleeping in  corners.

It took  time for twigs to catch,

water to turn  to coffee,

bacon and 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 numbed from the chill,

that woodstove not giving

more heat than a miser.

Walking down to Olsen’s pond,

I looked through the glassine surface

remembered the boy  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 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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