A Slight Storm

The grays and tans of gravel and sand
barely show through the thin glaze
of this day’s winter storm.

A light forming of freezing rain
slickened the graveled surface beneath
the thin whipping streams of powdery snow.

Knurled husks of ice form on the galvanized steel
that frames the round pen
while the wind sends whirling swirls

into the hoof-pocked trompings
of frozen muck and mud 
all around the big round bale in the feedlot.

Along their necks and shoulders and the sides of their faces,
a dried mat of plastered mud
from where the geldings rolled in the wet pasture 

is covered now
by bristling threads of frost plaiting every strand
of tail and mane and stiff hair of coarse winter coat.

The pair stand beside the gate,
heads held above the top rail,
watching as we shuffle our way

across the treacherous crust from house to barn,
their warm breath curling softly for only an inch and an instant,
then whipped away by the wind.

Ears tilted toward us, 
they wait for their tending
of pelletized grain and chopped hay,

the sweetness of beet pulp and alfalfa,
and a place then to stand out of the harsh breeze.
Their own daily bread: sheltered by the shed, watered and fed.

Randa and I make our way
back alongside the frozen ruts,
feeling the tracing cut of the north against bare faces.

Inside, we shed boots and layers of upper covering,
heavy gloves and wool hats,
then sit down on sanded stools in the warm kitchen,

and give thanks for warm, buttered toast, 
strawberry jelly,
and steaming cups of fresh coffee.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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