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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.

—William Matthews

from Foreseeable Futures, 1987
Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY

Copyright 1987 by William Matthews.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company from Foreseeable Futures, 1987. Copyright 1987 by William Matthews. For further permissions information, contact Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10003.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

William Matthews (1942–1997) was the author of 11 poetry collections, including Time and Money (1996), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Search Party: Collected Poems of William Matthews, was published posthumously by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2004.

Learn more about William Matthews at The Poetry Foundation.