Where the Tree Bent Under Snow
I survived unexpected winter days
when one inch hoar ice grew inside windows
against which the winds out of the north like
broken teeth chattered. The village orphans
who'd denounce for a loaf wicked parents thanked
their executioners for swift sentence--
nobody left to stoke the night's embers,
not under eiderdown quilts mother warms
child; life without shelter; nobody
to stoke the embers of night; Nobody.
I dreamed that I walk upon a desert
drown in a sea where my skin is burnt off
my bones; when I wake the darkness of night
wraps me and I am blind and I am cold.
A spark from the fire has burnt my heel
and the blister is frozen, a wafer
below my ankle. I pray for fire,
the curtains aflame against the night.
Prayers I dare not whisper to another.
Another reports the state enemy.
With no one to stoke the embers of night,
children at school will learn of past evil;
but, in such days I had lived free to move,
free to desire, free to curse the cold.
Today the frozen land promises thaw
and after the thaw will come the flooding;
after the flood, the harvest of plenty.
But here and now while it is wintry
at the lake skaters vanish under ice.
Quietly into such small hidden places
One hundred years, a century, will creep.
John Horvath, Jr. lives in Mississippi where he has been publishing internationally since the 1960s. With degrees from Vanderbilt and Florida State Universities, "Doc" Horvath taught at historically black colleges. In 1997, John Horvath began editing poetryrepairs.com, a zine dedicated contemporary international poets (http://www.poetryrepairs.com). John is a disabled U.S. Army veteran.