Most people don't know
at thirty below
with a lethal blow
blood bounces off snow
but I've seen the scene
and the shine and the sheen
as I cleaned it up after the show
I stand in the rain
and I speak strength to pain
and I scream out the name
where I place all the blame
but nothing feels right
and I feel it all night
this fight with the light that I frame
Every step is strategically placed as she makes her way across the ice. The pond’s been frozen solid for well over a month. Glancing up at shadowed skies, she sees delicate snowflakes beginning to fall. Despite wearing heavy layers and boots against the cold, she’s freezing. Will spring never arrive?
Grandma Agatha’s house looms in the distance, just before the copse of trees, the roof and branches heavily laden with snow. Today Greta’s basket is filled with loaves of bread, red apples, cheese, and carrots. She makes the same treacherous trip each week. She can’t risk the old woman starving.
Reaching the center of the pond, a resounding noise breaks the silence. Panicked, adrenalin pumping through her veins, she runs, slipping and falling less than ten feet away. Spread eagle, she watches an apple roll across the ice, its redness much like blood bouncing off the snowfall, contrasting sharply with the white of the ice.
The crack expands and cold water hits like a ton of bricks. Gasping, she bobs up and down, struggling for a brief moment before realizing all efforts are in vain. No one hears her save the startled birds, their wings flapping against frigid air. The sound fills her ears.
A calming numbness floods, encompassing reality. Hands, fingers already frozen, slide easily across the slick ice. The irony of it strikes hard and swift. Confusion intensifies. Has spring arrived? Warmth infuses, peace abounds as a single leaf, like her final, selfless prayer, falls on the ice.
“Please don’t let Agatha starve.”
No time for killing
Where I come from, the best killing season is summer ’cause the ground is soft; makes for easy digging…though times are the heat can be damn ornery. And you can’t keep a new kill around too long if you don’t want to deal with stink and rot.
Spring is good; blood seeps into the ground right quick with all the rain washing sins away…’course, trudging through the mud leaves tracks you don’t want nobody seeing.
Autumn has a double whammy, in a good way: Falling leaves provide cover for new graves and if that don’t work, soon-to-be hibernating wildlife devour details, leaving behind an unidentifiable pile of bones. Lots of trekkers are out in the fall, come to see the leaves changing colors and take pictures. Me ’n cameras don’t get on too well, if you know what I mean. But, trekkers, especially the lonesome ones…well, maybe I was wrong. Fall might be the best season.
But, winter? Winter is a time to rest, eat, and sleep. To think and to plan. To get better acquainted with next season’s target. Targets.
Ol’ Granddaddy told me this story and I ain’t ever forgot it. “Boy, if’n – or when, I ‘spect – you find yourself in a killing mood, winter is not when it needs doing. You might think the deserted, snowy mountain is your friend, but you’d be wrong. Not everybody knows this, but ‘roun here, we have us a murderous snow where blood bounces off and clings to death. I seen it with my own eyes back in ‘53. We was fixin’ to teach a lesson to some boy had no business stopping in our town. Mind you, I was just watchin’ as I was too young yet to have my own knife. Didn’t get my first till I was six. Just like you.
Anyways, boy’s there on the snow, naked, hogtied and cryin’ for his mama when my daddy’s friend, my Uncle Bo, says I’ll give you something to cry for, boy. Uncle Bo takes out his hunting knife and slices the boy’s side like they did Jesus on the cross. But when the blood poured out, it didn’t seep into the snow like blood should. Naw, call me a liar if that blood didn’t bounce off the snow and splash in ‘ol Uncle Bo’s face. He started to scream and all the men who was about to join in the killin’ backed away. The snow blood was stabbing, ripping and tearing at Uncle Bo’s skin. And when it spilled onto his clothes, they turned to ash leaving his skin covered in snow blood. In the end, don’t know if it was the stabbing, the burning or the drowning what killed him. Drowing, you say? Yep, he was gurgling and clutching at his throat, a bleeding mess before he finally fell down dead. Snow white as it was when it fell from the sky. Some kind of deadly miracle. Boy was dead, too. Bled to death, I ’spect. Or froze. My daddy picked me up and ran so I don’t rightly know.
So, son, listen when I tell you, winter is no time for killin’.
one winter in Boston
I was walled in
think Edgar Allan Poe
but instead of a drunk
being encased in cement
and left alone
I was surrounded by snow
four feet of it
piles of it in the streets
I had crackers and cheese
and I guess some propensity
to live; the white-out
outside my window
turned into an oblivion
and I tell that story
who will listen