Ice Wine

Gabriel Olearnik

And a dark-eyed woman in the old country
dreams of him for one of the world’s ready men
with a pair of fresh lips
and a kiss better than all the wild grapes
that ever grew in Tuscany.

The Shovel Man

See? Black eggs, not grapes. Each pipped berry
bloated with juices. Frosted by the seasoning of the season
Snow in the brambles like white sheep falling

I fed the earth with slow penances, crumbling nights
into the soil. A hundred times I ate bread before the sunrise.
Son, the work was for you, and it was worthwhile.

There was a snake around the eggs in July
there was a drought in August
there were briars, and mould on the east ridge.
Our neighbors told me to stretch my back
to make the ice wine next year

But I remembered my father, his hands brown
his head red from the sun, steaming, sweated
his height, his green bottle and the love in it
thirty summers ago

I am waiting
(my hands freezing)
for your first hurried sips
of velvet and mandrake.
I am waiting for us
to drink stars.

Gabriel Olearnik studied medieval history at University College London. He is currently an attorney and practices corporate law.