Schoolboys with Dog, Winter
It’s dark when they scuff off to school.
It’s good to trample the thin panes of casual
ice along the track where twice a week
a freight that used to stop here lugs grain
and radiator hoses past us to a larger town.
It’s good to cloud the paling mirror
of the dawn sky with your mouthwashed breath,
and to trash and stamp against the way
you’ve been overdressed and pudged
into your down jacket like a pastel
sausage, and to be cruel to the cringing
dog and then to thump it and hug it and croon
to it nicknames. At last the pale sun rolls
over the horizon. And look!
The frosted windows of the schoolhouse gleam.
from Foreseeable Futures, 1987
Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY
Copyright 1987 by William Matthews.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).