Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Misery of Winter

Labrador, 1903
Hubbard and Wallace swore
When my swarthy halfbreed ancestors
Refused to be guides or portermen
Two Americans could never comprehend
Those who know the misery of winter

Labrador, before the war
Great grandfather rescued Wallace’s life
Guided to fame Hubbard’s wife
A lifetime pulling sleds over chest high snow
All his life cracked skin and gnarled bones show
The misery of winter

Labrador, 1970s
Snow Goose Lodge among the boulders
Crawling with American soldiers
Whistling down on little sticks
Breaking arms and sometimes necks
Fools who never knew the misery of winter

Newfoundland, 1990s
Arctic Expedition vacation dates
Flask sipping university classmates
Crunching over frozen salt spray
Yet every time I stayed away
I only saw the misery of winter

Newfoundland, 2000s
Back to the island where ice storms their anger vent
Pitching snow by hand in exchange for rent
Japanese wife asleep in bed since September
I a wheezing, soaking, backbent member
Of those who know the misery of winter

Kyoto, now
Huddled in our heatless home of Japan
Siberian blast sweeping down over Hiezan
Only we pitch curtains and plastic sheets
Trying vainly to keep in heat
Two of us who have known the misery of winter

Young Canadians
Snowboarding and skiing and camping
Snow lifts your spirits never damping
I envy your energy and mirth
But I was marked from birth
As one who knows the misery of winter

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