after the late news,
thanks to the Appalachians damming
the air from New England.
Patti first hears the crack of the thin
Bradford pear branches,
then the boom of a collapsed
transformer. Then another. She tastes
the silent furnace hum.
The battery-operated radio says power
could return within the hour, but if not, call someone.
A cold banana and apple must feed
all four North Raleigh residents.
The minivan’s engine runs
for 25 minutes,
the ice chunks mocking the contained
heat. Both parents chip and lift the frozen
sculpture to free wipers and headlights,
the eight and three-year-old
overturn tables and etch suns
with Sharpies on the carpet.
Do you have to go to work today?
she already knows the answer.
At 7:12 am, his recall-free Toyota
attempts to escape their glassy driveway,
swaying and spinning like a drunk dinosaur
until the laws of friction engage.
For her, there’s only home with no TV,
bored children and the crystal claws
knocking their unwelcome
against the wooden siding.
“Southern Ice Storm” originally appeared in Carolina Woman Magazine.
Alice Osborn was born in Washington, D.C., the winter after Watergate to a Masterpiece Theater-obsessed mother and Archie Bunker-obsessed father. Her past educational and work experience is unusually varied, and it now feeds her work as a poet, as well as an editor-for-hire and writing coach. After the Steaming Stops is her most recent collection of poetry; previous collections are Right Lane Ends and Unfinished Projects. She’s currently at work on her upcoming collection, Heroes without Capes. Alice is also the editor of the short fiction anthology Tattoos. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has taught classes and writing workshops to hundreds of aspiring authors of nearly all ages from nine to 90. A former high school English teacher, Alice works with the United Arts Council in the Raleigh area to bring writing to grades 4-12 in local schools. She is a District Coordinator for Poetry Out Loud, is the poetry workshop leader at the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival for four years running, and serves on the NC Writers’ Network Board of Trustees. Her work has appeared in Raleigh’s News and Observer, The Pedestal Magazine, Soundings Review, and in numerous journals and anthologies. Alice lives in Raleigh with her husband, two children, and three birds: Ray, Perry and Ariel. Visit Alice’s website here.