after Louise Erdrich
Such relief, this soft falling, even
as the shovel scrapes concrete,
even as an escape route is necessary
now. How to exit the subdivision,
how to enter the commerce highway.
The snow floats above streetlights
like a cloud of white gnats, quiet
until in my face, then blinding.
I have finally turned into my father,
sight not necessary for survival.
There is nothing to teach about it.
Winter is just what we have to do.
Bring in the wood, gather jars,
peaches or tomatoes. Wonder when
we’ll need to shovel again, how long.
But we are a hardy species, native
crab apple or choke cherry, even
a starving deer will leave us alone.
Winter should protect us, this frozen
ground, our icy tangled hearts.
Yet, now we have done it, now
we face losing winter. How will
we bring provisions for protection?
Woolen blankets in the car, flares,
a stiff spade to find our way out.
As if winter was what we had
to fight against. As if we did not
know what we have to lose. Slow
beat of the bear’s heart, painted
turtle coming back around again.
Ellen Stone taught special education in the public schools in Kansas and Michigan for over 30 years. Her poems have appeared in Passages North, The Collagist, The Citron Review, The Museum of Americana, and Fifth Wednesday among other places. Ellen is the author of The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013). Her poetry has been nominated multiple times for a Pushcart prize and Best of the Net.
© 2019, Ellen Stone