At Home in the Blizzard

Not since 1982 did we experience this. Then, we were a young family with visitors and no electricity. We chatted wrapped in rugs before the fire in candlelight. In the night our two year old woke and would not sleep. When I went to see her, the reflection of a pillar of flame jumped out at me in a mirror on the stairs. Our piano was on fire. We were very lucky. The fire was dealt with quickly and apart from blackened walls the piano was the only thing damaged.

My Dad was a fine carpenter. He scoured for a piano lid that had the same curvature as our old one, rebuilt the front upright face and restored it beautifully. Mind you, it acquired a slightly mongrel look with the different woods but its fine sound and tone were unharmed. Years later, we passed it on to a local school and, as far as I know, it is still in use.

So we are confined now for a few days inside, four adults and two children. Thankfully no power outage and a plentiful supply of food. The events of thirty six years ago were reawakened and I was reminded of my Dad’s great gift and also my own family home, built by him in 1950. I had written a poem about it earlier this year. I think it apt to show it now.

In addition, I scribbled some lines reflecting a writers progress in the storm.  Enjoy.

  

Memories from Childhood

 

In the garage of our then new house,

my dad made his workshop.

From an old solid door he created

a workbench with a large metal vice.

 

For years, this was my playground.

I steered liners with that tool,

hauled timber along the Zambezi,

drove trucks on highway 66.

 

The vice was a multifaceted toy.

It stood for whatever at the time

and was mine only, no one

in the house could come near.

 

Fifty years later, as we cleared it,

the bench and that great vice were

the last things to hit the skip,

a lifetime of work, of play scrapped. 

 

Peter Clarke

January 2017

 

 

When Winter Really Came 

 

A Seomra*, wooden

inside and out,

with a polystyrene layer

in between,

sits at the bottom

of the garden,

dislodged from

the house

by three days

of snow.

 

He writes

in there,

which means

he stares out

the window

at falling flakes,

walks around

the shelves

fingering spines,

tidies and enters

mountains of

receipts accumulated over

an extended period,

repeats these rounds,

leaves for coffee,

forcing his way

through ten paces

of blizzard.

 

As a poet

in the making,

he follows this

programme

assiduously,

three times daily.

 

Poetry in very 

slow motion.

 

*Seomra is the Irish for room.

 

Peter Clarke 

2nd March 2018