Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
print version

Cook Takes Stock after the Ice Road Fails

Onion. Rutabaga. Chive.
Beeve sides. Pork hide,
the whisky, boss’s red wine
all gone down on candle ice.
Our good mules, two to a cart.
The yoke strained but yoked
they stayed, a tangle of leather,
flesh, and harness as water rushed
to fill the space where the cart
dimmed before the mules did.
Not a thing we could do.
Not ice or man strong enough
to brace against such weight,
to save what we’d lose. Yelling
from the ice shelf in the first shatter
of hooves on ice, we urged our Mollies
landward. When the floe tilted,
the mules rose like wild messengers
from the steaming churn of water,
icy spray off their shorn manes.
After, the last slow bubbles lingered.
No sound but ice docking ice.
I swore to the men we beheld baptism,
and what was there but to drop
to the snow, pray that the provenance
of mercy is not the heart of man alone?  end

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