The early snow began with a thin drizzle

and Joyce watering the artificial flowers

in the living room and on the sun porch,

so Leeland knew right off he couldn’t leave,

go to the public library for a respite

or stop by the liquor store for provisions


By then he’d already lost two of his five goldfish

to blue herons deep diving into the fish pond

he’d built between the patio and flower garden,

helplessly watched them rise slowly into the dusk,

expensive goldfish squirming in their pointed beaks


Great wet flakes hung the air a gloomy white,

covering the pond and crowns of the ash trees


He so wanted for Joyce to sit with him

a minute in the late November afternoon

as they always had,

sip brandy and gaze at the goldfish swimming

in the froth of their homemade waterfall

one last time before the winter freeze


When he heard her firing up the Buick,

he ran to the garage, grabbed the keys

and hid them in his sock drawer

She escaped to the dining room to empty

the heirlooms from the dining room curio

searching for Aunt Sarah’s cookie platter

to toss through the kitchen window


The snow kept falling, falling

into the night and he had to wonder

what she was doing hiding again

behind the coats in the guest closet,

what the last three goldfish were thinking

in the darkness under the ice