(Prelude) Bare Trees

It was nearing the time
when out
of necessity
he would rise 30 minutes
earlier
in part
to provide
extra moments for
stumbling into morning darkness 
 igniting the aged jeep
in effort to make it
habitable upon
leaving for his employer.

Comfort in memory
whose engram noted
the vehicle had been the last owned
by his father,
whom at 80 years in this same month
could be found to
drive it recklessly down
leaf strewn two-tracks
hauling feed-
corn, apples, carrots
and the like-
to his final deer blind.
As roused about this encore opening day
as any of the previous 70 or so.

These days
 hours of sunlight began to recede
 heralding what
became seven months
of seasonal challenge.
While yet no snow to navigate,
in but weeks
he would be
cursing the cold rapture
of icy intrusion
to his bared ankles and feet
en route to
to a swift brooming of the vehicle
perhaps still in bathrobe and
whatever insufficient footwear
was offered by the back porch. 

First exhaust belched out the tailpipe
depositing a carbon Rorschach in the snow.
He would initiate the window scraping process
assuming last year’s cheap plastic implement
could be located in the garage, or under the back seat.
Often he would draw the chattering wrath
of irrate pine squirrels
whom he believed to reside in the abandoned property
next to the drive.
Always so unduly pissed off
for seemingly such a minor intrusion into their
morning routine. 

He had acquired in his first years
in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
the vicarious knowledge that
this coming of winter solely earned
season status with the indigenous population-
Finlanders, Italians, Ojibway, and Eastern Europeans-
With spring, summer and fall
barely garnering a prelude reputation
to the months of darkness.
And that an individual or family could
could measure self-worth, not by
a score on a psychometric instrument,
but by the number of cords cut and stacked
for the stove.
K. Carter