Reservation Road, Winter

By Gary Metras

On Friday, even if it snows, I walk

my street, only seven houses this side

of the mountain to the locked gate

where the state reservation begins,

and where, in summer, we bring our grand-

daughter to the playground. Today is sun

after snow, all sparkle fluff. No trees

or wires down like last time. The road’s

well plowed and sanded, making the walk

leisurely, as intended, and I glance into

the windows of the neighbors. One should

not do this, but I do, then turn back

to kicking plow-clumped snow.

Besides, no one is home. No one stands

or sits on their side of the glass, staring

out at the world, expecting something strange

and beautiful, or terrible after storm.

Empty living rooms startle, like finding

torn feathers of a cardinal on snow;

there was song then silence. There were children

warming yesterday’s cold air with laughter.

Already their snowman tilts toward the sun.

Some driveways are cleared, some only have

tire tracks leaving. All that vacant space

cars fill after dark, I think, standing here

in the bright air, holding a red feather up

to divide the sun. How yellow the quill is surprises.

The fibers at its base are wispy, not frozen,

could still tickle a child’s cheek. I accept

a wild animal’s death. But I don’t understand

the neighbors who never raise a shade,

not even on the sun side that faces the street

I’m walking. It makes one wonder

what they hide. More than simple shyness

and shabby furniture. But the closer neighbors

disturb me more. They never lower a shade,

front, back, or side. They rise before sunup

and seldom is any room lit past the news hour,

as if the misfortunes of others shame them

to early sleep. I always stop in front

of the retired professor’s house. We haven’t

spoken all winter. I worry about her health,

if she is in the hospital again. Suddenly,

her front window flashes with a waving hand,

no body, no aged, smiling face; just a flash

of thin flesh that makes me think I should hurry

home and bury this acorn of acknowledgment

beneath the heart of the rhododendron

hibernating under my vacant picture window.

 

 

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Gary Metras has had poems in America, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Poetry, and Poetry Salzburg Review. His most recent book is The Moon in the Pool (Presa Press 2015). He is the editor and letterpress printer of Adastra Press.


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