Duane Koukol: ‘Late Night’
To the editor;
It must be two o’clock in the morning.
Can I wait until five, the answer — NO!
Out into the cold, winter’s night.
With two feet of snow and thirty below!
Out through the top of the feather bed.
Not to disturb my older sisters,
My spot in the middle,
Step lightly not to wake.
With flannel, homemade p.j.’s and darned wool socks,
I amble in the dark to the coat rack.
A coat patched with many a rag, too long, someone else’s before!
Wool hat, coat on, find my overshoes at the door.
Trudge out with unbuckled boots.
Be careful on icy path!
Buckles can connect.
Two legs become one!
Down a slight hill, boot prints.
Now, solid ice, past Dad’s mowing machine.
A cow moos quietly to her calf.
Moonlight and stars on snowy ground.
The dugout with mom’s summer canning.
Choke cherry jam and canned roast beef,
In mason jars, with onions and garlic,
Milky vinegar sauce, winter’s fried up treat!
The roof covered with two feet of snow.
Onions, garlic and shriveled carrots hang,
From hand-cut, cedar rafters.
Potatoes on the dirt floor below.
I’ve made it to the slight hill.
The two-holer beckons.
Door creeks, pushing new skiff of snow,
The bench sticks to bare skin!
The Sears and Roebuck, orders now being taken!
Search in the dark for soft sheets!
Crush, crumble and spread.
Deliveries to a store “Inside Flush Toilets”; it must have said?
Back up the path in the winter moonlight.
My warm feather bed, I seek.
Shep curled in a ball in a wooden box, half filled with old rags,
On the porch, with a family of cats, bedding, they sleep.
The inside of the house is cold.
The cooking range bed, only ash.
Quietly, creaking floor, I make my way back.
The feather bed, OH, my spot, still warm!