Winter, Lower Longley, Tasmania by Rafaella Del Bourgo


Winter, Lower Longley, Tasmania
by Rafaella Del Bourgo

with a butter knife I scrape
frost off the inside of the kitchen windows
and there they are again
cow faces with their dark eyes
noses breathing steam
feet stamping in the snow

like the lamb
from the farm up the hill
and the black cat
they want to come in
they want to come in out of the cold
into the house which will be warm
as soon as the logs catch

on the table six ripe apricots
blushed with sun
plump with sweet water all the way from California
flown in then purchased at great expense
from the one market in town

I open the door for the cat
then shut it quickly
against the lamb and a possible cow stampede
sip a cup of coffee
with milk and sugar the way I like it

as snow continues to drift down
the cows wear white caps
white as the lamb who has kicked down his fence again
and is huddled on my back porch

two possums snuffle
snouts to the ground near the woodshed
looking for something to eat
from the Marsupials of Tasmania poster
I learn they are brushtails

Sulphur crested cockatoos winging overhead
screech like rusty hinges
the cows moo in response
the cat wakes up raises her head and yawns
these sounds and the occasional
whoosh of a lone car on our country road
are all that
interrupt the silence of falling snow

we have no radio and no phone
we brought ten albums with us
and I’ve listened to them so often
that now I’m yelling at Waylon Jennings
Either go to the rodeo with Willy
or grow up and stay with your pregnant girlfriend
but whatever the hell you do
just stop your damn whining

I slept all night yet I’m so tired
my husband
is dazzling them at the university
and I fear that the turn my life was supposed to take
has already happened

I am sitting here alone
cows smearing my windows
with their noses and tongues
tilting their heads right and left
the cat on my lap
the lamb taken from the flock
as a plaything for the farmer’s sons
still desolate on my porch

I’m watching the fire burn
and waiting to warm up
and maybe just maybe this is it
even though I’m living somebody else’s life
maybe this is the turn

PHOTO: Cow in winter. Photo by Peter Mayer, used by permission.

tasmania tamara bauer licensed

NOTE: Tasmania is an island state of Australia located 150 miles to the south of the Australian mainland. The state, which encompasses the main island of Tasmania and the surrounding 334 islands, has a population of about 540,000 as of March 2020.  Tasmania’s capital and largest city is Hobart, the home to about 40% of the island’s residents. 

PHOTO: View of Hobart, Tasmania, from Mount Wellington. Photo by Tamara Bauer, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During 1976, the glass artist, Richard Marquis, and I spent the year in a 100-year-old schoolmarm’s residence attached to a large one-room schoolhouse outside of Hobart, Tasmania. He had been offered a very  generous year-long artist-in-residence grant by the Australian Arts Board, and he went to the University most days to work in a glass shop he built while students and other teachers watched.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rafaella Del Bourgo’s writing has appeared in Puerto Del Sol, Rattle, Oberon, Nimrod, and The Bitter Oleander. She has won many awards including the League of Minnesota Poets Prize in 2009. In 2010, she won the Alan Ginsberg Poetry Award. She was also the 2010 winner of the Grandmother Earth Poetry Award.  In 2012 she won the Paumanok Poetry Award.  In 2013 she was the recipient of the Northern Colorado Writers first prize for poetry and in 2014, the New Millennium Prize for Poetry.  In 2017 she won the Mudfish Poetry Prize and was nominated for the third time for a Pushcart Prize.  Her chapbook Inexplicable Business: Poems Domestic and Wild was published by Finishing Line Press.  She lives in Berkeley with her husband and cat.

4 thoughts on “Winter, Lower Longley, Tasmania by Rafaella Del Bourgo

  1. Oh Raffy I love this poem– the empathy and live connections with the animals and their frigid cold ; your isolation from allthe comforts left at home like phone and central heating while you ruminate alone– your husband teaching in this cold isolated place while you comfort the cat and wonder what you–or so it seems to me//to be doing with Your Life — in a silent symphony playing in your head… a gem of a poem


  2. Loved this poem. I felt I was there. I guess the isolation looming from covid swept me to Tasmania. Never thought I’d love a poem about cows and the cold!


  3. I also loved this poem, as we are contemplating experiencing a cold harsh winter in our home. Thanks to Covid, we are not able to spend our harsh winter in florida. Otherwise we are ok; we thank God that we are doing as well as we can.


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