Ice Scraper

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I woke gently, but all of a sudden today to
the sound of a cartoon voice singing rhymes
in a fake Manhattan accent.

The dark is hollow, lit by the sound of my snoring
dog which bounced off just-familiar walls and
rapped against the ice on the windows. A
rumbling echo-locator beacon mapping the room.

The Omaha cold has a smell. An aroma that you
don’t get back in the nooks and crannies
of British suburbia. Over there the cold has an odour
of rotten wool or skanky grey cardboard. But here,
here it is… incisive. Like the edges of
a pattern cut into a good quality glass.
Etched. Purposeful. It tricks you like this.

And here the wind doesn’t nudge you about and
flick playful flakes at you; it pinches your ears and
slaps the raw open palm of its hand full and hard
against your sore cheeks and tweaks the end of
your nose to make it drip drip drip sniff.

Home-coming is the sound of ruddy-faced people
knocking the life back into gloved hands followed by
the communion of banging boots free of snow that
doesn’t melt. Watching are hurrying snow plows
littering dirty white drifts at every road junction;
sullen funeral pyres where Nebraska’s December
buries the bones of our long sweet lazy summer.

Up, with a cuddle for the roused snorer and a
pat on the head for Toto’s double before I stitch
myself into my great galumping snow boots and
ram my “ear hat” down hard to thwart frostbite’s
chances. Fingers straight and stiff in waterproof
gloves; required, essential – skin dies here in minutes
if you let the swirl of the wind start to snack on it. I kiss,
check, keys, check and head Oates-like to the car.

Half-light twilight and the crackle of trees flexing
nakedly in the chilling breeze that bites. The blipper
clunks the door locks and, with an OCD glance for the
right park light, full red dial, full blast fan on; both
heaters set to beat the ice away from the poor
shivering windows.

So I begin to scrape away winter from your windshield.
Methodically because that’s how my mind likes to do
these things, the way I’m designed. Square scrapes,
neat edges, top to bottom. The sound of the blade
bounces off the garages and walls. A rasping, juddering
staccato cackle of frozen resistance. No bird sounds,
no traffic noise; just me and the scraper and…
that…
damn…
stubborn…
frost, thicker than the glass I’m hacking it from.

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  • I love this poem, Ian – so evocative, and sounds just the way I expect ‘proper’ winter to be!

    Hope life in Nebraska is everything you wished for, and more besides :-))

    Lyn

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