Claudia Emerson

(13 January 1957 / Chatham, Virginia)

Spring Ice Storm - Poem by Claudia Emerson

The forecast had not predicted it,
and its beginning, a calming, rumbled dusk

and pleasant lightning, she welcomed as harbinger
of rain. Then as night came she heard the world

relapse, slide backward into winter’s insistent
tick and hiss. In the morning, she woke to a powerless

house, the baseboards cold, the sky blank,
mercury hardfallen as the ice and fixed

even at noon. The woodpile on the porch dwindled
to its last layer; she had not replenished it

for a month and could see beyond it windblown ice
in the shed where the axe angled Excalibur-like,

frozen in the wood. Still, she didn’t worry
beyond the fate of the daffodils, green-sheathed,

the forsythia and quince already bloomed out—
knowing this couldn’t last. But by afternoon

she did begin feeding the fire in the cast-iron
stove ordinary things she thought she could replace,

watching through the small window of isinglass
the fast-burning wooden spoons, picture frames,

then the phone book and stack of old almanacs—
forgotten predictions and phases of the moon—

before resorting to a brittle wicker rocker,
quick as dried grass to catch, bedframes and slats,

ladderback chairs, the labor of breaking them up
against the porch railing its own warming.

Feverlike, the freeze broke after two days,
and she woke to a melting steady as the rain

had been. The fire she had tended more carefully
than the household it had consumed she could now

let go out, and she was surprised at how little
she mourned the rooms heat-scoured, readied for spring.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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