The Old Ice House on Chartres Street

In the ice house night
trucks roared through huge doors to the cold;
big men pinched blocks of crystal with steel claws
flung it up to stacks and stacks of cold
all night work.
Boots stomping, shouting,
hard sheets of their words fell from the walls
like sleet,
and the breath of the men rose around them
like the breath of cattle in a winter field.
At the door to the dark of the ice house night,
our eyes just open,
moving from the crush of the wheels of the truck,
we watched them work,
while shaking the cubes in our cold glasses.

Lee Meitzen Grue
from her book French Quarter Poems
Long Measure Press, 1979

used with permission of the poet

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