Cold Fire

frozen-trees-around-the-road

Northbound US 81 zig-zagged east
through Sisseton, South Dakota
past a Lutheran church, a graveyard,
and the Mobil Supper Club
before straightening north again and
heading toward Fargo.

I think an Interstate, odd-numbered,
has either obliterated 81 by now
or turned its two lanes into six,
interrupted only by occasional exits
where Supper Clubs have become Applebees
and the tables are filled with travelers
rather than Lutherans (or Methodists, or Indians).

But there is a place
about two miles north of Sisseton’s
city limits where, in the winter of ’72,
there where miles of barbed wire and oak posts
separated the highway from the prairie,
that one morning, about 7 or 8
when the eastern sunlight was bouncing from
hill to rise
in the reflected white light of last night’s snow and ice,
that box elder trees, ten of them or twenty of them,
caught the sunlight in ice-covered branches and
glassine canopies became as
frozen fire burning against the cold, so clear blue sky.

Cold fire, forty years ago. But
burning still..

David B. Weber, March 2013

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