From Issue 17: In the Wake of the Storm, When Snow Had Reached the Rooftops

Rodney Torreson


my brother Dean crawled
through the bathroom window
and carved a path to the door.
Later, while father dug for the tractor
and loader, we cut channels so high
through the white,
that from the house to the barn
and to the pig pens and beyond,
birds winged through them
as daylight reveled,
marbling the maze’s walls.

The goodwill of neighbors
after such a storm
brushed not only us but the spirit
of the cattle and hogs—
the horses as well—though,
if any livestock
cleared snow,
we never saw it. Yet time and again
they leaned in, grinning,
muzzle shivering,
nodding at the latest scoop—
be it snow or the forecast—
and finagled a way into the house
by blowing on their forelegs
to keep them warm.

We welcomed them,
as best we could, obliged:
a cow pulling up a chair
for a glass of that white stuff
we would not name;
hogs slathering in the tub, grousing
for another bar of soap
to lather up their leathery snouts;
horses fussing before the mirror
at the long faces
they had become.

Finally, with apologies
and our dogs up at ‘em
and chewing on their hocks,
we chased them back into
their pens—and for weeks afterward
strained to commiserate—
awkward as it was,
but this got old, and often
we’d pass so close
in those cracks into each other’s life
that we’d feel their every rib
as if in cars moving
over something on the road.


Rodney Torreson, poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan from 2007-2010, is the author of four books, his most recent being THE SECRETS OF FIELDWORK, a chapbook of poems published by Finishing Line Press in 2010. His two full-length books are A BREATHABLE LIGHT (New Issues Press) and THE RIPENING OF PINSTRIPES: CALLED SHOTS ON THE NEW YORK YANKEES (Story Line Press).