Though people who've lived here long lifetimes can only recall a handful of times where the New River froze, it was just a few years ago that the "Polar Vortex" passed through and locked the river down. I wrote about it in these poems published in the anthology NEW RIVER REFLECTIONS:
The River At January
The dog and the cat
have found puddles
of sun to curl within.
They are making do
in a house so cold
that ink won’t flow.
Brittle blue sky
bereft of birds.
Not a boat
afloat on the river,
nor a deer
nuzzling the paralyzed
for the last
Rabbits, raccoons possum, fox
to be seen.
It is like
Ice floes glide
In the wake of the arctic wind
forest, field and brush are left
immobile, like crafty children
playing a game of Freeze Tag.
Winter’s first snow today
turned all the trees to sycamores.
Powdered courtiers, elegant arms
offered in lines along the river:
ghosts frozen in a minuet.
The River on The Coldest Day
Late sun molting
at the bend, with
a clatter like
the river is cracking up.
We can’t believe our eyes:
Winter stopped the river
bound it bank-to-bank,
lashed it to the cliff feet
in crystal stillness.
The Way Sound Carries
The river has been solid for a week.
Our neighbor’s dog is missing. My
calling out for her reverberates in
the crystal air, the ground crackles.
Nothing moves—cloudless blue sky,
pale sycamore, snow, and gray rock.
No black dash of tail-wagging dog.
Gladys, from the general store, told
a story about the last time the river
froze over, way back in the 1980’s:
A doe, trying to make the crossing,
plunged mid-river, her hind quarters
in the sear of glassy water, her front
legs scrambling the ice for purchase.
Gladys said that all over town you
could hear the desperate wailing of a
living thing that did not want to die.
I am thinking about that doe when
the dog appears, all proud of herself.
She has been on an adventure and
has returned, clutching the hooved
foreleg of a deer between her teeth.