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"his shovel sings a threnody"

Published onFeb 12, 2024

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich:

It's so beautiful says the young
girl to her mother, and mist
from her breath creates an angel

on the clear cold glass of the window
as they peer out and watch
old man Ford across the street shoveling

snow that has collapsed from a wintry sky
like a 10-story building falling
in an earthquake, crumbling across his drive,

his avenue of escape for food, for an ambulance
that came late one night when chest pains
falsely alarmed, a faulty gallbladder he said,

but that was springtime, it's turned winter
since, and his shovel sings a threnody
with each scrape of its tongue against hardness,

and the pair that is watching from their window
cannot see the pain on his face,
cannot feel his struggle for breath,

cannot know his heart is getting ready to fail,
and when they turn away from the window,
old man Ford dies on his drive,
embalmed in snow at ten below freezing.

W. Barrett Munn is a poet who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His poems have been published in The Awakenings Review, San Antonio Review, Sequoia Speaks, Book of Matches, Kairos Literary Review, and many others. He is a graduate of The Institute of Children’s Literature.

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