September 6, 2013 by The Citron Review
It is cold and I am old
in the north part of Vermont
where people shiver and are gaunt.
At night I hear the crackling of frozen birches
like distant small arms, pistol shots.
And I recall the muffled crunch
of boots on frozen snow.
It is nearly time to go.
From the frosted bedroom window I see a frigid moon.
The wood-stove fires have gone out
and must be lit again soon.
The pale morning sun will only glimmer next;
gray days are long, with no familiar family song
to help them pass away.
For I am old and I am cold
and not long here to stay.
Alone, I think of other times:
my two young sons in their beds,
now grown and worlds away
in Oregon and Arizona.
And my wife, their mother, warm beside me;
a family together.
Their mother is gone forever now;
I never thought she’d go, never.
We split firewood in the shed,
the boys and I,
and stacked it high
and built snow-forts for fun.
There was talk then and laughter,
and my wife and I were one.
To be all together again
would surly warm the weather.
One winter, in the wood shed,
we found a fox:
Stark, rigid, flat, dry,
It was thin as sheet metal.
I could have used the fox
by its tail, a stiff handle,
as a snow-shovel.
Sometimes I dream
nectarine dreams of dappled sunbeams
under a coconut palm,
where sailboats swarm and the sea is warm,
and the mind is qualm-less calm.
But I won’t go south. I will stay here
and not seek encouragement,
and not find nourishment,
and let the fires go out,
and become shivered and gaunt,
and go the way of the fox.
For it is cold and I am old
In the north part of Vermont.
David O’Neal is a retired rare book dealer now enjoying a second career as a writer, especially of poetry. His recent creative work has been published in The Eclectic Muse, Vision Magazine, Mississippi Crow, Two Hawks Quarterly, The New York Times, The Lyric, Open Minds Quarterly, Bird Keeper, The Magazine of the Parrot Society U.K., etc. and in anthologies such as The Marin Poets Anthology, Voices of Bi-Polar Disorder, Nurturing Paws, and Science Poetry. He has also written several books and compiled and edited Babbling Birds: An Anthology of Poems about Parrots from Antiquity to the Present.