Poetry Daily Response

Two Degrees and Falling by Barbara Lau

Sometimes nature, subbing for God,
has to throw her weight around, pin us
to the mat. It’s two degrees and falling
into a bone-whittling cold. The moon gleams
like a glass eye. Train whistles freeze in midair.
Inside, swags of frost cling to the windows.
We light fires as if man had just invented them.
We prop cabinets open so the pipes won’t burst,
and stare at the blank bird feeder,
the stark backyard now one thick strip of ice.
How can the stray cat, the redbird couple,
possibly survive? Will the mountainous pine
come crashing through our attic?

We get groggy on the dregs of Christmas
cognac, watch the kids wrestling by the hearth
like that scene from Women in Love
except they must keep on their flannels.
We wince when the lights flick off
and remember tales of the Donner party.
We’re grateful for matches, candles, canned
soup, blankets, beds, each other’s bodies.

Morning comes. The window frames
a freeze-dried kind of stillness
until two red and taupe shapes
swoop onto the feeder, alert, waiting.

I like this poem because of the cold images it conjures up. Hearing nothing but the cold and a train whistle feels freezing to me. I love how the moon is described as a “glass eye.” Sometimes it is so cold out it seems like everything is glass; it’s untouchable its so freezing. Also, I like how the author sympathizes with “the stray cat, the redbird couple.” While everyone is inside seemingly all warm and cozy, the animals are outside in the cold.

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