Great Blizzard of 1888 by Ilona Martonfi

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December 22, 2013 by northerncardinalreview

The sound of poles crashing

telegraph and telephone wires,
felling oak trees, old chestnut trees,
snowdrifts up to fifty feet high

by the Hudson River, Manhattan,

runners delivered in wooden sleighs
driven by a team of oxen

groceries, ice, coal, bread
mother said: “We have enough food,

a few eggs, but no milk.
Kerosene lamps, beeswax candles.”
Writing letters.
Sewing father’s coat.
Front page New York Times:  March 13, 1888
“Mayor Ordering
Electrical Lines Underground”
“City To Build A Subway”
Digging out, gangs of men
found abandoned wagons, the dead.

Down our street,
a neighbour’s brownstone
burned to the ground

after the snow stopped —
the pale-yellow sun
took to the park with sleds and toboggans
dressed in purple velvet, dark-blue leggings,
button-up boots, gloves, warm fur muff.

Rumble of the elevated trains,

horse-drawn trolleys
on Second Avenue
the smell of fresh dung and urine,
a nickel a ticket,
separate cars for “whites” and “coloreds.”

Ilona Martonfi lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Author of two poetry books, Blue Poppy, (Coracle Press, 2009.) Black Grass, (Broken Rules Press 2012). Chapbook, Visiting the Ridge (Coracle Press, 2004). Work appears in Canadian Woman Studies, carte blanche, Vallum, Accenti, The Fiddlehead, Serai, and various other journals. Founder and producer of The Yellow Door and Visual Arts Centre Readings, co-founder of Lovers & Others. QWF 2010 Community Award.

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