Winter Guard

By Nancy Lou Canyon

East: Twisting black
locust limb breaks
falling to earth,
spilling poison pods
across frozen ground.
Father splits rotten wood,
stokes stove full
waiting for smolder
to smudge brittle air.
West: Rusting barbwire
encloses creek willows,
huddled naked, heaving
against mountain wind.
Daughter reaches,
twiggy fingers tapping
frosted pane; watching
willows battle storm
with useless skinny limbs.
South: Tall poplars
rise, bend and toss,
limbs articulating
like spines leaning
shoulder to shoulder,
bracing strong backs
against nor’easter.
Mother carves meat
while ground blows bare.
North: Nude fields
catch drifts of snow,
crushing grass clumps,
resting fallow field
waiting on warm breath
of spring thaw. Son
pulls on baseball mitt,
begs winter to release
her prisoners.

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