Winter Returneth to E-Town Today…

A poem for a cold bitter morning…

First day, paper route/January, grade 5

It all went well
till I got to the end
of Thompson Drive
which ran out of houses
at the edge of the prairie.

518 was next on the list
but Thompson proper
ended in the 400s.
In -30 I trudged aimlessly
back and forth on Ness
pondering the glitch:
a customer without
an actual house.

Some 15 minutes later
I noticed a black spot
150 yards away
across the barren field.
Could that, irrationally,
be it? It was north
of the 400s after all.

The Arctic wind blew–
unforgiving from the north,
lifting snow to sting and freeze
my unscarfed face,
but I got there.
The iron numbers frostily
on the house: 518.

And was welcomed by
a bent, suspendered man
with thick green glasses:
Mr. Steele. Francis or Frank
as his wife called him.
She was Dorothy or Dot
in that last year before
the old guy’s death.

They insisted I step in
and sat me by the window
with a hot drink
looking back at civilization.
They were grateful
I had come bringing
news of the world
(albeit late).
The “new carrier”.

I sat and listened to them
quietly argue for 20 minutes
till my feet had thawed.
The old man was nice
and congenial.
She did what he told her to,
but I wouldn’t have trusted
her edges for a minute.

Another strange beginning
that winter of yore,
being taken in abruptly
to their so-isolated life.
I wondered after
how they survived,
and plodding back,
I realized why
the last carrier
had quit the route
after Christmas tips.

(“There is only one story–
the story of your life.”
-Northrop Frye)

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