by Jeff Burt
Spann unrolls the snow fence
and I first lift then drag it
post to post through drifts,
the posts once dressed like scarecrows
now tilted four by fours
looking like tombstones to failure.
I alternate gloves to keep my hands
from freezing, lose more wire tacks
to the snow than I get to bite into wood.
Wisps of flakes rise from the ground
whenever the wind blows
and follow currents no differently
than water in a riverbed.
All seem to end up in our faces,
and I ask if we can’t turn our backs
to the wind and work from the other side,
but Spann assures me there’s an aesthetic
to have the backside of the fence
to his father’s farmhouse, though what
that aesthetic is he cannot say.
The lore of yore, he says, passed down generations.
You want the pretty side out
and the constructed side in.
Things hold up better that way.
By the end we know it will not matter.
Drifts pile up against the fence.
As we look back to the beginning
the snow has already started to blow across.
When the wind stops, it piles the snow
a few feet past where the fence
was designed to impede it.
We finish what we have started,
and return to the warmth of the farmhouse
and then, just then, in the first few seconds
of warmth returning, we both feel the sting
of tacks that have pierced and clawed
and dragged against and into our fingertips,
crisscrossed with jabs and penetrations,
as if a form of secret writing.
By night, the snow we meant to forbid
has found its way to the door.
In the morning our sore fingertips
rub against our thumbs as if wings
across a beak in grooming.
photo credit: Robert Thiemann, Unsplash