I am an optimist, linguist, singer, and founder of the Broadneck Writers’ Workshop. My chapbook, World Class: Poems Inspired by the ESL Classroom (Apprentice House, 2014) is based on my experiences teaching adult immigrants. Other poetry and prose appear domesticallyand abroad in such journals as KansasCity Voices, Kestrel, Angle, and Steam. For more info please isit my website: http://www.broadneckwritersworkshop.com/jane-c-elkin.html
Winter Storm Titan
March came like a lynx
on silent snowshoe paws
and lissome sprinter’s legs
to snatch Spring in her jaws
Once it was over she knew, of course, who’d sent him
one week after the storm to clear her path in the thaw
that first day the road reopened, that first day of Lent
when she lit a holy candle bought on a whim without
any reason but nostalgia, and said a prayer. Why let it wait
for another day when Ash Wednesday felt so right?
Kids back in school, sun melting ice, a day of to-do lists to write.
A day for errands, restocking supplies. A day for humming a hymn
at least, for she would not make it to Mass. That could wait
like all things delayed a week under ice, awaiting the thaw.
A week without church but also distractions, a week without
work, without play dates or lessons. A jumpstart on Lent,
a week of reflecting, cocooning, a week of preparing for Lent
in her soul. And now it was spent. Leisure snuffed, she’d no right
to complain. They’d weathered the storm safe and warm without
any trouble at all. But here was a glitch — no, less than a glitch: him
scraping the road of slush stripes the first plow left in the thaw,
blocking her path, her only path home. What gave him the right?
A hint of a thought, gone with a shrug. So what if she had to wait
one minute more? Let the man do his job. Inconvenience is Lent.
Be patient. Relax. Enjoy the warm sun. It’s not like the ice cream will thaw.
Trancelike, she let herself go. The blinker plinked: right, right, right
as she watched his plow work. Maybe sixty seconds it took him,
sixty whole seconds. Big deal. Calm whispered to her without
prompting. Then, parking at last, from five stories up came a whump without
warning. A ton of ice crashed in front of the car, blocking her way. But wait.
That’s where she’d have been, unloading her bags, had it not been for him
clearing the road. Sixty seconds well spent this first day of Lent,
sixty seconds when she would have parked, gotten out, and walked right
to the trunk to unload the bags where the avalanche crashed in the thaw.
Her blood turned to ice pondering her fate, then started to thaw
as she spied the candle, recalling her prayer just that morning, without
which she suspected her guardian angel might not have been right
there when she needed him most, sent there to make her wait,
to save her from her busy-ness, to remind her of the meaning of Lent.
She thanked God and Mary, who winked from the candle, and him
whose small plow was right there on the day the great thaw
reminded her of Him without whom she’d have been without
hope, and might have waited eternity not knowing what power He lent.
-originally published in Soul-Lit Journal
©2016 J.C. Elkin