The Death Of Willis
sun sets, pouring crimson adoration
over the nova scotian snow.
homeward to margaret he goes -
willis, on his homemade wooden sledge,
with mollie, hard-in-harness,
puffing clouds of steaming breath,
an antiquated equine locomotive.
he draws long on his pipe
planning for the coming work day.
squinting against the failing fire
he softly calls gentle encouragement
to the tired, aging horse.
'giddap, girl! good molly!
hay and sweet molasses bran
for you, my girl - when we're home.
oh, my poor bones ache! (he winces)
pulp wood is a young man's job
not one for the likes of me.
he frowns, puzzled.
but i'm only fifty-three!
how can that be when i feel so old?
lost in thought, he lets the reins go slack
but molly knows the way back home.
in thickening darkness she plods
the crooked roads between
the hills of south rawdon.
at length she stands in stall
munching promised sweets
as willis walks back to the house.
margaret meets him at the door
and helps him with his mackinaw and gear.
the kitchen is wrapped in the aroma of the meal
which sits warming on the stove.
he eats in grateful silence
too tired to talk much.
pie and coffee in front of the t.v. -
one half hour begrudged to don messer
and then it's bath and bed.
she turns off the bureau light
as he groans himself into the great four-poster.
still smelling vaguely of balsam,
horse sweat and gasoline
his hand instinctively seeks hers.
'good night, willis', whispers margaret.
but deep breathing is his only answer.
she smiles, squeezes his hand
and closes her eyes to the night.