I’ll tell you
we’re never ready for winter. Never
enough firewood cut, hay put up.
Pipes freeze. Milk cow’s udders freeze
when their legs collapse under the weight of cold.
I know cold. Know the silent sleeping house,
the quiet of pasture on a windless day, of bloodshed
and dead calves. The children watch me from the window,
standing in the storm, alone, holding up Rosie’s head;
ice slicing through my clothes, now soaked and frozen
to my skin. Ice holds her to ground.
The dark freezes the rain, prairie grass whistling
in the sharp‐scented wind. I’m breathless
as my limbs ache, buckle under weight of meat, bones,
milk, blood, and cud. Boots slip in cow shit and mud.
Come on girl, I whisper.
Don’t give up. Gloves soaked, fingers bleeding. We’re never
ready for winter.
DANELLE LEJEUNE is a wanderer, a beekeeper, a farmer, a mother who gave up on art for nearly twenty years until an alligator in the marshes off the coast of Georgia convinced her to look twice. Since then she has been published in Literary Mama, Red River Review, and Fifth Wednesday Journal. Forthcoming work in Whale Road Review and Red Paint Hill Press. Her photos have appeared in Portland Review and Flyway Journal. She’s been a poet in residence at Vermont Studio Center, attended Charles University in Prague, and is the assistant to the Director at Ossabaw Writer’s Retreat (where the alligator lives...)