Scenes from a Small Town in Winter – a poem by Daniel Bowman Jr

Scenes from a Small Town in Winter

The holidays just over 
and the tree taken down, 
we’re having our first real winter weather—
ten degrees and snow. 

I step out on the porch
just before the eleven o’clock news.
Everyone in the house is asleep.

Wind clangs the street signs on the corner: 
Elm and High, though
most of the old elms are gone, 
and “high” but still on the flood plain,
as I learned last spring
when it poured for two days straight. 

I’d gone to the hardware store 
that dark morning to see about a Shop-Vac 
for puddles in the garage. 
Two men in Carhartt coveralls argued 
over the last sump pump. Each declared 
he had more rain in his basement 
than the other, five feet or more.
Both knew the last pump
lacked the horsepower they needed,
but what choice did they have? 

I look out over the Rose of Sharon, branches
pruned at perfect angles
by my father-in-law back in October.
He can be hard and imprecise with himself
but tender and scrupulous with shrubs.  

The empty bird feeder sways back and forth
from the redbud’s bough 
like a broken bell tolling for nothing.
A faint blue light shines from some point west.

Daniel Bowman Jr is the author of A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Country and Notes from the Spectrum (Brazos Press, 2021). A native New Yorker, he lives in Indiana, where he is Associate Professor of English at Taylor University and Editor-in-chief of Relief: A Journal of Art & Faith

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