Out in the cold darkness of a winter morning,
I felt the sting and knew that ice was forming
on the thin steel skin of the car parked in the drive.
Freezing rain drizzled down, bending the tall shrubs
and everything else limber enough toward the ground.
Beads and strings of ice barely glimmered
in the low glow of the porch light.
Four hours before dawn I walked out to the street,
sliding my feet to see whether there was a glaze
on the pavement.
There was none here but forty miles away
sleet was raining down on Cowtown,
a slick sheath layering above a slicker coat beneath.
This sort of thing turns the streets into wagers
and those who bet “fast” will pay up sooner than later.
By mid-morning, the berms and shoulders,
ditches and banks showed the tracks
that lead to where wreckers and EMT’s
are called to deal with the lasting effects
instigated by a moment’s passing indiscretion.
This isn’t quite the rain for which we were praying
but with wildfires torching the prairie a hundred miles away,
we’ll take it.
We’ll take ice and sleet, and flood and mud if we have to.
And though it might seem a bit callused to those whose tracks
lead from asphalt to ditch bank,
we remember miles of burnt fence and blackened timber,
the twisted frames of barns and buildings,
and thousands of heifer-shaped corpses
bloated in the corners of pastures that turned into prisons
in the roaring pass of flaming grass
and a sixty mile-an-hour blast
that changed every dry and windy morning
for the rest of your life.