Rousing to check her phone, she asks,
“What’s with the old book and thermos?”

Recent snows resurrected memories of family
In Newfoundland. We lived by small rituals,
Some religious, some not, all earnest
Prayers, nonetheless, to persevere another
Winter. By firelight, papa drank hot tea
Steaming from his thermos, reminding
Him of chilly summer days cod jigging or
The hunt, with few sips contemplating
Past years, or more perplexing, those
Difficult years awaiting fishing families.

At night we read aloud to each other, all
But lost art, I fear. Inked words, phrases
Sentences, accounts penned by great
Author-explorers became our memories,
Realizations, flesh and blood. Because it
Had all but fallen apart, we kept Isaac
Israel Hayes’s “Open Polar Sea” in a shoebox,
Each loose page read aloud accompanied
With warming tea sips, bites of biscuit on
Time-melting winter nights.

Week before Christmas, all was not paper-
Wrapped present merriment, for mother’s
Duties continued from cloud-streaked dawn
To early predawn hours, decades retrospect,
Quiet suffering for our benefit, warm meals,
Tending to needful siblings and pipe-puffing
Papa. Recent nights of Maine horizontal-
Blowing snow, steadily accumulating, my
Daughter sofa-sleeping, we look after each
Other. Rousing to check her phone, she asks,
“What’s with the old book and thermos?”

My life is different now. Thanks for reading. 

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