Poetry Archive


Of Course

Harold Rhenisch

Gord and I have just carried
ten twelve gallon carboys of white wine
out into the snow
without breaking a single one
and are very happy
as the horses rage up
to the fence
around the stumps
of the pear trees
on the hillside
and the chickens chuckle
about the geometrics of seed

because it would be a shame
if our next winter's wine
would go to waste like that
For one we would have to sweep up the glass
with a snow shovel
so the children did not run out
and cut their feet on it
you never know
when children are going to run out barefoot
in the snow
that's one thing we have learned
after eight years of being fathers
the other is how to make wine
and how necessary it is
to carry it out of the furnace room
where the spiders lay webs
around the ductwork
to catch dust
lots of dust
the fan can kick on
with a big whoosh
like a wind

suddenly to its feet
among cottonwoods
and breathing hard

and to set it out into the snow
under an old pear tree
clustered with tiny
shivering birds
so that the acid will come out of the wine
in crystals
against the swollen walls of the glass

Right now Gord is pouring
wild turkey whiskey
into the air locks
so they do not freeze
and the wine can still breathe
the chickens are talking about Plato
how he passed through in the night
only two weeks ago
and slept on the straw among them
and left before the dawn
the horses are trying to outrace the wind
at the top of the hill
alongside the old wooden flume
that runs there under ancient
red-barked pines

and Gord and I are happy
with this work
as the children
lean out of the door
and giggle
and run back in again

Soon we will be able to bottle the wine
after Easter maybe
Then we can drink it
though we have of course
already sampled a bit of it
with a used horse syringe
that we keep just for that purpose
two mouthfuls

and know that this
is the best year yet
and we are happy with that too
for after eight years of being fathers
in the steel-blue air
we have learned
that there is something going on among the chickens
that it might be best to leave to the chickens
as they do it extremely well
and that the horses are watching us
all the time
out of incredibly big brown eyes
sometimes we have seen them
standing at the top of the field
through a screen of loosely falling
pale blue snow
watching us intensely
and have realized suddenly
that they have been watching us
like that
for a long long time
and although we quickly send our thoughts back
to see whether we have done something
while they have been watching us
we can come to no other explanation
for their behavior
than that is the business of horses
and that it doesn't feel bad
to be watched like that
although it is a little unsettling
and that it is good
in the cold of one winter
to plan ahead for the next



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Harold Rhenisch holds a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria (1980), where he studied with Robin Skelton, Charles Lillard, P.K. Page and W.D. Valgardson.


He is the author of 8 books of poetry, most recently Taking the Breath Away (Ronsdale), The Blue Mouth of Morning (Oolichan), and Fusion (Exile). His first novel, Carnival, was published by Porcupine's Quill in 2000.


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