Posted by: Peadar Ban | March 25, 2015

A Poem: Where None Should Be

Where None Should Be

There are stones beneath the snow.  Beneath the snow
Are fallen brown leaves I suppose last Autumn’s oaks
Had shed in the golden days before the hateful cold,
That is all I’ll have from this fading winter, would,
Hurtling down on us from the bitter north pole,
Heap mountain high heaps of smothering snow
Spitefully freezing life everywhere.

Now the stones, buried these many months,
With the sun’s help, push through, push through
Patient as only stones can be, seem to grow
Out at the edges by less than inches.  A bunch
Of birds inside a bush wait for feeders
To be filled while a chill of rain falls
And, snow or no, feeder filling’s a job only I can do.

I fill the old plastic jug from the bag of seed
In the shed behind the house, the shadow of the eave’s
unnecessary shade making for a colder job
Than I would have, and just that much chill of heart
And hand adding to my cold work of charity
For the birds, and squirrels who’ll hoover the ground beneath
Of every errant seed when I have done my part
In the universal plan ordained from eternity
By a loving God for a lame from biting cold man.

So, jug full, frozen through, I force my way back,
The small stone heads emerging from snow’s womb’s edge,
And climb to the top snow piled peak; beating a track
All the way with numbing feet to what just may have been
The thankful prayers, or cheers, of birds from bush and hedge
On both flanks, and squirrel chatter in the rhododendron.

Wherefrom I look down on the empty feeder atop
Its six foot metal post, the first three feet deep
Embed in snow turned silver gray ice. A steep slope
Of the same stuff leads to it, whose geography
Threatens me, and dares me too, on what’s become
A fool’s errand by now.  Dare I try?  Or turn around?

In the end soft heart over hard head wins
And, one arm held straight out for balance sake
Most carefully, I, oh so slightly, bend
My one good fully operating leg;
The jug of seed clutched safely to my chest.
My first mistake.  The bad one, the right, not left,
Leg; though you’d think the sinister would be,
Wouldn’t you?  Not me though whose fate’s soon sealed
When what’s left of my Caput Femoris there
Decides to slide across its companion where
Once a soft cartilage would cushion it.

Alas! A threnody I sing for that
Lost ability gracefully to fall
And no longer dance. Just fall flat..
Accompanied by scattered seeds and melodies
Of patient waiting birds, and squirrel
Choirs within the rhododendron bush
I slide in the direction of my pain
Down the slick and icy snow hill;
Tipping as I go towards my weak right side,
Give flight to jug and all the seed inside
And land, full circle come, at least looking up.

The birds in the bush nearby are silenced.
The squirrels in the rhododendron quiet
Too.  The last seeds bounce and clatter
About.  Rain still falls cold and wet on me
Who can’t see a thing through my fogged glasses.
But I can hear the hiss of rain, and soon
The flutter of little wings, beaks tapping
On the ice, and one brave titmouse on me
Foraging for safflower seeds where none should be…



  1. Love this.

    • Thank you, Sister.


%d bloggers like this: