by Roger Fritz, 10-3-00
This old log house creaks and ticks during the night
like some fantastic wooden clock,
marking our dreams with hollow music.
The walls are the color of purple lilacs.
The comforters on our beds are thicker than bread.
When the dawn comes through the frosted panes,
we listen for Grampa to stir,
to rattle the grate and awaken the fire.
And then we grab our icy clothes and run for the stove,
where we dress like a flock of chattering, skinny chickadees.
We know the ice on the river will bear our weight,
and we will skate like zippers in the afternoon.
We know the snow will be full of snow-fairies,
and they will twinkle at us in the sunlight.
We know the horses will be blowing clouds of breath
as they pull the haywagon,
and we will play in the hay behind Grampa
until Uncle Joe scoots us out of the way
and pitches leaves of hay to the Herefords.
Their coats will gleam like shaggy, red gold.
And the cow with the bent horn will lower her head
and plow the calves out of her way.
We'll find frozen apples in the orchard
and thick smells in the henhouse.
Grampa's World War One helmet hangs in the machine shop,
with a glazed spot where a bullet ricocheted.
Gramma's memories of rattlesnakes lie in the potato cellar
with the tubers and jars of home-canned peaches.
Gramma's in the kitchen with her clear green plates from
the 1939 Saint Louis World's Fair,
cooking up magic.
The cowboys will shoehorn themselves into place
around the table
and eat like she'd just invented food.
Perhaps she has.
Perhaps she invented her life and my mother's and mine.
Perhaps she's the one who gave me this heart
and this snowy day to put it in.
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