Ted Kooser, “Snow Fence”

Snow Fence (from Sure Signs)
Ted Kooser

The red fence
takes the cold trail
north; no meat
on its ribs,
but neither has it
much to carry.


Decay can be an object all its own, but is most recognizable with a bold, sturdy object as its victim (“red fence”). The red fence marks the landscape – shows a trail, a way, even. Still, it is worn, thinned by snow and water and cold.

Which begs the question: how can snow, water, cold be so injurious a burden? A fence stands in all sorts of other weather. How does an emaciated fence come about? On a parallel note, why do we punish ourselves over seemingly insignificant things? How do we allow ice to form, why are we weathered by its melting?