Come with Me to the Old House

By Marie Lamb


Carrying cold frosted air, in splinters
tiny silver knives in air, stabbing
coming through gaps in shoelaces
walking along the road
back to the old farmhouse.
Icicles hanging sharp in drops
from the edges of the roof
their aim set by gravity
and mine set by warmth
I try hard not to disturb their deadly teeth.

Arrowing towards home
each step rocking into the next
avoiding the holes in the road
one two three four
each step fighting the hard pressure of
the gales between the windbreaks.

It is the game we play
every October and November wind
pushing us hard across the fields
pulling the air from our lungs
and taunting us, always
with months more to come.
Arriving, winded,
thin cloth on metal handle
to keep the skin from freezing to metal
pushing, shoving, breaking ice
convincing the frozen door open
to be safe from the wind’s fierce bite.
Fingers fumbling with the old wick
and the shiny plastic lighter
able to bring light to ancients
and illumination
to books and photos of my ancestors
a time capsule from another age.
Green Lantern, Dracula’s daughter and Dora Deane.
Knees to the stoveplate, newspaper and kindling
bit by bit catching to become embers
The half hewn squares of logs are cut
to fit within this small lion’s mouth
of blaze and consumption.
To feed the beast and not get burned.

Mittens searing on the rack, drop by drop
to be rescued in a moment to clip to the line
stretched across the ceiling,
the same way the children who came before
dried their hats and gloves and scarves
and now only mine.
In the back kitchen I set the electric pot to working
boiling water for a hot drink
to warm my fingers at the desk.
Eventually the day will warm some,
come out of its icy fortress
by holding the sun to her zenith,
but for now, there is coffee.

Glimmers brighten the room,
lantern and the edges of the barrel stove door
begin chasing the shadows away.
The weak light of the single kitchen bulb is not enough
so I sit here by the brightening window
lantern beside me, bridging two lights into one.
Coffee and shelter have done what they can.
And time with them will do the rest.
Slowly, the cold still shivering in the meat of my legs
begins to seep away and gather back my warmth.
A thick quilt in the chair holds in what it will
and the barrel emanates a wave function of
infra-red across the room to envelop me in it’s hold.

I am once again satisfied,
to sit with my thoughts, pen to paper
making warm holes in the window glass with my breath
tracing dark lines on white paper, curls and dotted i’s,
somber thoughts by firelight while Winter lies frozen
Grateful the sleeping earth has not caught me yet.

About Marie Lamb

Marie Lamb grew up in Northern Minnesota, in a place where time had not yet caught up. She attended NDSU because the winds were too high in Grand Forks. She now lives in West Tennessee, on a farm with her husband and daughter, and installs plumbing fixtures for a living. She still stands out in the morning and watches the sunrise. You can find out more about Marie on her website,

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