MUSED Literary Magazine.

Winter Chores

J. Scott Shields

Clothed like Eskimos
we march between barns--
the sharp morning sunlight
steaming each swirling breath
and piercing daggers of
icicles dangling from
snow-capped rooftops.

I grip Grandpa’s pinky
with my wool-mittened fingers--
walking in footprints left
by his tall buckled boots
and carrying at my side
a thin-handled hammer
he had used as a boy.

The cattle hear Grandpa’s call
through the bright arctic air--
walking along fencerows
outside the barn’s door
and gathering near a
frozen galvanized trough
glazed with spidery frost.

Grandpa punches the ice
with a rusty old pipe--
shattering the surface
with each crushing blow
and leaving behind pieces
for me to begin working
with my small hammer.