A free verse poem written for the Writer's Cramp, February 20, 2021.
Those warnings - we'd heard them all before,
had scrabbled around making preparations
only for the storm to be more of a breeze.
After a while you get less cautious
when those forecasts seem to be forever crying wolf.
And so, when it came we weren't ready at all.
Not that we'd have ever envisaged
the white-out... the freeze...
the weather event that brought us all to our knees.
Power lines froze and fractured, weighed down by ice
and finished off by the surge in demand
that led them to sizzle and burn -
the only light in a darkened world of white.
Wind whistled and heaped the snow against buildings.
Who would have dared to venture out anyway?
No vehicles to see but heaps in the snow,
unable to start up, unable to go.
But without any power our homes turn against us.
Cowering in the uncommon half-light,
covers heaped from our heads to our feet, piled in layers
to trap within them the almost hypothermic body heat.
Nothing to do but sleep, doze, imagine a world worse or better;
for without power we are isolated, disconnected... alienated
as we stay trapped within homes that are no longer sanctuary
and offer no comfort but that found inside a cold store.
At least there is water, but barely a trickle as the insides of pipes clog with ice.
And then what?
A thaw will come - eventually - and the water will be gushing then.
There must be something I can do to kill the time before it kills me first.
Can't think; the icy air sears my lungs, hands and lips are blue
but wrapped up in blankets I shuffle towards the window.
I stare at the sky and I think of you,
hope you are warm somewhere, safe from the freeze,
and I hope and I pray like never before
for this white to go
and for the mercury to finally rise.