Free Range Poetry

despair of the snow man

I stand sentry on this small hill, pine-girded, snow-crusted,
commanding my troops, frozen as I am, my smaller
brothers (and one sister) and the
snow-fleshed animals in sweaters they do not need,
any more than I require this top hat to keep me warm.

If anything, I keep it cool, fresh for my successor.

We have been standing for days without action
keeping still as the cold
waiting for the enemy to show himself.

For six days, my comrades – two snow babies, a snow woman
(hardly more than a girl, really),
four snow rabbits in silly vests, and a lumpy blob meant to be a squirrel
(you can tell from the acorn) – for six days we have waited.
We have been cold a long time.

School has started.

The cold carries cries of joyous recess across frozen fields, and they are not coming back.

In the glitter of the distant January sun, my
sagging hat gives the lie to my whispered encouragement.

“Be strong. Stay cold. They will return.”
But they are not coming back.
We know that, now.

School has started.

Or perhaps they will return, running,
inappropriate shoes squishing through the melting meadow
to find our hollow clothes,
sopping sweaters and our rotting, mouse-gnawed noses,
and my best top hat,
still cool,
inscrutable to the last.

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