Snowbound With the Dog

Snowbound with the dog, I reflect upon my life:
The parts I lived and those I didn't get to

My gaze goes continually to the window
Where flakes, like feathers, soft and pillowy,
But bigger than golf balls, are falling,
Aiming straight for my freshly plowed driveway

Weather-dot-com can no longer be accessed
And the radio has gone from watch to warning
To snow emergency, blizzard conditions,
Incalculable accumulations,
Drifts and winds-gales gusting to 30 miles per hour-
Freezing rain is in there somewhere, too

Two glasses of wine into it, though, I no longer care;
It's me and the dog-
Against the world if need be.
I calculate we can hold out for 19 days;
After that we flip a biscuit
And go the way of the Donner Party

Throwing another log on the fire,
I look back on the past
And cannot help but wonder
Where the years have gone.
Perhaps they were "Measured out with coffee spoons,"
I cannot say. I shrug and turn to the dog;
He shrugs,
He is given less and less
To philosophy these days,
Keeping his eyes keenly on the peanuts we are sharing;
He watches my every movement-
I am certain he is counting-
I do not give him wine

I tell him about my life before I met him;
Most of it he has heard before:
Where I grew up, went to school;
We talk a little about his former father,
But it's mostly about my family
And how I heard at a very young age
That the worst tragedy that could befall a person
Was to lose a child,
So that's why I never had kids,
I explain to him
But that did not inure me from loss-
Nothing does, I tell him,
Offering him the last peanut,
And stroking his red-brown fur,
Because there is always something to love

by Elaine Koplow

BARKS Poetry Contest winner

Elaine Koplow is an active member of the Writers' Roundtable and has written for various audiences for many years. Several of her poems appear in Voices From Here, a regional anthology of poets in the New York/New Jersey area. Writers who have influenced her include Dylan Thomas, Sharon Olds, and Linda Pasten.

Elaine says of her writing, "Often what inspires me begins as an ordinary, even mundane occurrence, that then becomes a defining moment in our lives."

Born in Washington, DC., she attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin where she worked as a union organizer before moving to New Jersey and teaching high school English. Elaine lives in northwest New Jersey in the Kittatinny Mountains with her dog, where she writes and enjoys the great outdoors.