Soon the work of winter will begin. That is, the small, tough work of a man wading out into snow that covers the height of his boots to brush and scrape and prepare a way into the world, by which I mean the man will clean off a car. But now we’re inside where the first thing of note that happened was my breaking a beer bottle in this man’s kitchen. Who knows why my brain didn’t notice that the undue force of my arm moving the full teapot from sink to stove would nick the edge of the dark brown bottle. It was morning and an accident. And, so you don’t get the wrong idea, though the counter was full, it only had two beer bottles on it next to a collection of dirty dishes waiting from last night’s supper, hoping to be rinsed and scraped themselves. Of course the work of winter may be something entirely different. In the case of winter, it may consider its work to be the beautiful stillness of not just forests and fields, but once-busy streets. Or perhaps it has something to do with hibernation and seed pods. Even for this man, cleaning off a car is not much work, but it leads to other work and is, for us, necessary. And perhaps the accident of force, the breaking of the bottle, is nothing, not noteworthy at all—except for the fact that I’ve noted it here twice. Perhaps the most noteworthy thing hasn’t happened yet—the small sliver of dark brown glass that the brush and pan did not scoop up, that later will insert itself in the paw of a mouse who squeezed in to get away from the cold. And yet, this small injustice will go unnoticed by us so distracted from trying to catch to a mouse.
Karen Carcia is the author of On Subjects of Which We Know Nothing (New Michigan Press 2011). She is currently a Research Assistant at the University of Iowa Center for the Book.