The iron cleats on the horse’s shoes
Squeak like rusting joints into the ice.
The teeth of our plow slice through the surface
A foot deep, where the hushed breath
Of living water pulses below.
We pry blocks from the river with steel bars.
We saw and chop and hook and heave.
We slide them up the ramp
Into wagon after wagon until it seems
We might take the whole river away with us.
Thousands of pounds of ice
Hauled to the storage house,
Each colossal block stacked
And packed with sawdust,
Recalling its life as a moment
Of the river in motion—here
Is the wild harvest of our hearts,
Given freely, and reliably, as the night.
J. D. Schraffenberger is the associate editor of the North American Review and an associate professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the author of the book of poems Saint Joe’s Passion (Etruscan Press), and his other work has appeared in Best Creative Nonfiction, Birmingham Poetry Review, Brevity, Mid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, Terrain.org and elsewhere. Schraffenberger’s essay “Ecological Creative Writing,” co-written with James Engelhardt, is forthcoming in A Guide to Creative Writing Pedagogies (Southern Illinois University Press).