Touch: The Journal of Healing



Prairie Winter

    by Janet Sunderland

Tonight, after you died, a nor'easter blew in.

You didn't know – you’d slipped out early

as a nightingale poured into night.

Now I sit in the car, whipped

into childhood, no stop for my fear.

Prairie storms were never unexpected.

Dad stood at the fence, smelled destruction

in the wind's icy claw. He called us outside

(you tied bandanas over our faces) to secure

barn doors and chicken coop against wind’s fury.

We stamped into the kitchen - popcorn, hot

chocolate - stood on the floor grate to thaw.

I played checkers with Grandpa -- worried

my red plastic chip (he always played black)

'til he’d promise, "Can't win thinking about it."

If a door slammed open, Dad took care of it.

No preparation for this storm - didn't know

it was coming. Snow batters the windshield,

tugs at wiper blades struggling to clear my view.

The nursing home door opens; they wheel you

to the hearse. Someone closes the door.

Remember that year it snowed so much

we couldn't reach the barn?  You and Dad

off in Florida - Kenny Divorak tramped

up our hill to dig tunnels through soaring drifts

high as the grain bins. We were safe; you were safe.

The hearse drives away.


Wind blasts my car. I turn up the heater, thaw

my stiff feet, think about the calls I must make

from my cousin's warm kitchen. Can't

get there thinking about it. I put the car in gear,

inch forward into prairie winter.

© 2011 Janet Sunderland

Janet Sunderland lives in Kansas City with her husband Cliff Kroski. Her work has appeared in The Writer, KC Voices, The Rockhurst Review, Lalitamba,, Imago Dei, and others.  She is an instructor at Avila University and Longview Community College and is completing a spiritual memoir, Standing at the Crossroad.

Winter Afternoon © 2010 Pat St.Pierre

Previously published on the photographer’s website

Pat St. Pierre is both a freelance writer for adult and children's poetry, nonfiction, and fiction.  Her poetry can be found at: Flutter, The Shine Journal, The Camel Saloon, Pond Ripples, Poets Haven, and elsewhere.  In addition to writing, Pat is also an amateur photographer.  Her photos have been on the covers and included in such places as: Ramshackle Review, The Camel Saloon, Wee Ones, The Shine Journal, Touch: The Journal of Healing, Southern Women's Review, and elsewhere.  Her poetry chapbook book, Theater of Life, can be purchased at

Copyright © 2011

Touch: The Journal of Healing

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