Dew settles on the chain-link fence and freezes,
lozenges of winter that hang for days. Two boys gather
handfuls in their mitts, suck a few—each its own small winter:
mint and water—then throw the rest at a knot in the oak tree.
One picks more and scatters the ice gravel in one heave
against the doddered old man’s window next door.
Inside, hunched on one elbow in a chair, he starts up
when the pane, through which he has been saying
a long farewell to the world, is battered by the tink and rattle
of two boys, aggressive and bored.
He raises one shuddering hand to his brow, remembers tocks
of shrapnel against his helmet, the hailstorm of ‘34 that pummeled
furrows into fifty of his father’s cows, the chink and scrape
of wrenching pound after pound from deep freeze, remembers all
between mitts and shudders. Boys, he whispers to the glass, boys.