by Marie Howe
What does it matter that this cold June breaks, another dish
on the kitchen floor, skittering under the table legs.
So it requires the long strawed broom, the extra stoop.
It will have out. When the sun comes back. When the rain stops.
But something doesn't fit. Something isn't fitting.
The washing machine jams and hums too loudly. The chickadees
fall from the trees. A swallow is caught in the chimney.
The smallest ram lamb isn't eating. The days pass.
June is too cold. The spiders threaten to overrun the nest
lodged in the rafters. They can't be eaten fast enough.
The mother, beside herself, has seen this happen only once before,
the eggs draped with gauze.
No letters come. The small tin flag is down. The house creeps
farther from the road. The grass rises in the rain. The scythes
rust and will not cut. The blades squeak and sigh, nothing
to be done. We close the porch doors, but every night
they open just a little. We hear it from the bedroom,
a small creak. no one there. The cold lies down in the meadow
where the sheep are credulous and sturdy and dumb, but
the ram lamb will not eat. His mother has already forgotten him.
The windows will not stay shut. Even the small nails
we bang in are loose in the morning, and the screens flap
a little in the small cold wind. From under the covers,
I watch you move around the house, fixing the broken things:
the desk lamp, the toaster, the radio that still will not speak.
The red hens haven't laid in a week. There's nothing we can do.
Nothing. It could be ten years ago. I could be dreaming.
This could be last winter all over again
with the wood stacked and the snow rushing from miles away.
Then too, the trees leaned a little funny and the cat
disappeared for days. Nothing would make him come back.
Last updated November 12, 2022