That privilege

The snowstorm is since gone,
the driveway plowed, the sidewalks cleared
and the curbside gaps cut for the doors.
I’ve shoveled out and cleared off the woodpile
and am lugging in the last load
when I glimpse him, that little one, 50 years gone
standing there in the bitter white-on-white.

It snowed then, in that place, at that time,
in my mind, even more so than now:
mountains of the stuff so that it took
hours and hours to dig yourself out.
It was cold then, too—shivery, wet, break-your-back cold,
with the snow caking your mittens
and your arms leaden with the lifting. How I hated it.
But I did it.

So I wave to him, that little one
and smile as I lift the last of the firewood onto the porch.
I get it, dad, I get it.

What can I say? An absolutely true story, exactly as written. I was bringing firewood in from the woodpile after having cleaned up the snow from a recent snowstorm when my mind drifted back to snow clearing as a child those many years ago. So much has changed—so little has changed.

Thank you for reading The privilege. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at our home, but of a storm several years ago. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.


Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge, The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.


Filed under Poetry

8 responses to “That privilege

  1. Anonymous

    Lovely, John, another reason why I’ll never again live like I did at Fort Drum, New York. You, however, chose to return to that sort of life. Passing strange, I think. But to each their own. We do miss you, both.

    • Obviously, you are a dear friend and know me well, especially how much I love snow. But your name came across as ‘Anonymous’; is that you, Howard? 🙂

  2. Kathleen Johnson

    Took me back to my own childhood in Minnesota. As kids we not only did our own but went out with a shovel to put some money in our pockets. How did we do it? Snow so high we had to go out a window and shovel the door out. John, I wish we’d had more time with you in Kansas to get to know you! What a loss. You are such a talent and I’m enjoying getting to know you now.

    • Good heavens, but what a wonderfully sweet comment! Thank you so much! As to Kansas, I cannot find the words to describe how much I miss my friends and their families from Kansas. I wish I had realized then, what a wonderful place and time it was and how special those people would be in my memories. 🙂

      So wonderful to hear from you!

  3. Pete Hulme

    Beautiful poem, John. It captures the heart-warming sadness of such moments exactly.

    • Pete, you are, without a doubt, a scholar, a gentleman and an incredibly astute critic! OK, sorry, all joking aside (although you are a scholar and a gentleman), thank you! I love your aesthetic sense and a compliment from you is always particularly appreciated! 🙂

  4. Shimmering! ‘Takes me to a new place, where you reflect on a profound past experience. New, and reflecting. “So much has changed … So little has changed.” Thanks, Man.