Winter on the prairie
and my father welcomes patrons
to his garden of pines. Douglas Fir,
Blue Spruce, dusted in nature’s sugar.
I carry the hacksaw, run my small
fingers along its serrated edge,
until it’s time to sever labor from its root,
a slaughter of needles, a stump left searching
for its spine. I sit at the windowsill and wait
to sound the alarm of new cars, surveying
the battalions of trees, the swingset left
dangling on the breeze. When they arrive, I run
the length of the driveway towards them
like the horses who sprint the fields
across the fence, all windswept
and nostrils. I carry bowls of candy canes
to our neighbors, take one for myself,
my mouth prickling from the rush of peppermint.
I drag felled trees from their rows, their branches
as thick as my bones, their smooth wound
sticky with the smell of sweet pine.
My father lifts them on top of cars
as if they were tinsel, and I fasten myself
to his heels, my feet dwarfed by his prints,
We cut trees until dusk, against that endless
inevitable grey, until my arms and elbows
sore from the good work. For every callus,
a coin left under my pillow. My father
curls into his quilts, and we listen, warm,
as the dogs quarrel with a deep, starless dark.



Nick Stanovick