I was looking for angels of rust under an overcast sky. The snow hadn’t yet begun to fall, but I could smell it coming. This morning, two Vs of geese flew over the house — non-migrating locals, I’m sure. It was only after their last calls died away that I realized how quiet it was. A quiet that meant not just Sunday morning, but low barometric pressure.
The day darkens toward noon. New shells of old furniture crowd the barn, fresh flotsam from the wreckage of Margaret’s house: all maple, my brother says. Stripped down to the frames. Studying the outside corner of the barn, I notice a drift of old sofa stuffing at the base of the foundation, a few feet below a large knothole where more of it bulges. The gray squirrel that lives in solitary exile in the barn must have its nest right inside.
The light isn’t good, to put it mildly. On closer examination of the side of the corncrib, maybe they aren’t angels at all, but red-tailed hawks. I can almost hear that archetypal rusty metal cry. Rilkean angels, at best: the terrible kind that wield swords of flame and can never be dissuaded from their quarry. So unlike the bugling geese whose breast feathers cover me at night — though geese can be fierce too in their own way.
I hear a crunching of teeth on bone from the compost pile at the edge of the field. The feral cat flattens itself against the far side of the pile, behind the onion skins, the ribs of lettuce, the eviscerated hemisphere of a pink grapefruit. We could be like other country people and plant a wagon wheel in the front yard and a dish antenna on the roof, I think. The grapefruit halves collect no signals other than the snow that falls intermittently for the next several hours. After dark, where a car had sat in the driveway all afternoon, there is one black patch.