FIRST WINTER: RETURN FROM FT. DODGE
The man a cross hatch in this painting of prairie he stands up against: cold and snow, that unyoked ox he needs come spring. Too late in this blinding white to turn back, he drags his sled of provisions forty miles home. The frigid wind rebuffs him with the slack butting of a head—a beast teasing at form. Its hide twisting snow, driving white, without an ox, how will the man work the spring fields barely formed? When the unfathomed ox lies on its side, the man feels the flurried loss of
possibility, his own tracks deep in ox slowing him.
He ponders the blank head of icy crust that is trying to understand, pummels this girth of sinew and sheen to get it to its feet, his mind now skating far away, chases what surely is the finished ox, home. He can see his wife miles ahead capture one of two chickens from the shed. She clutches one under the wings, feels the ruffled span of an angel on the back of her hands, its toes scratching at her breasts the trails home.
The poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan from 2007-2010, Rodney Torreson’s third full-length collection of poetry, THE JUKEBOX WAS THE JURY OF THEIR LOVE, was issued by Finishing Line Press in 2019. In addition, Torreson has new poems appearing in AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POETRY, MAIN STREET RAG, NORTH DAKOTA QUARTERLY, PATERSON LITERARY REVIEW, and STREETLIGHT.