Ice has been cracking all day
and small boys on the shore
pretending it is the booming of artillery
lie prone clutching imaginary carbines.

Inside the compound returning birds
peck at bread scraps from the mess hall.
Old cons shiver in cloth jackets
as they cross the naked quadrangle.
They know the inside perimeter is exactly
two thousand eighty-four steps
and they can walk it five more times
before a steam whistle blows for count.

Above them a tower guards dips his rifle
then raises it again dreamily.
He imagines a speckled trout
coming up shining and raging with life.

"Spring" © copyright by Michael Hogan, 1975.
Reprinted from Letters to My Son (Unicorn Press, 1975).