Gregg Williard

Scraping ice off the windshield this morning, the kind that doesn’t scrape. There is rain, then freezing, then rain, then freezing. Then snow. The snow brushes off, but the heat and defroster on the minivan sucks. It’s up to you to jab the scraper into the tough, thick glaze beneath, ding it away in little chips that spit in your face until you gain a little purchase, use the corner tip of the scraper to scratch lines up and down and back and forth over the cataract gray. You are all hot glare. The glaze stares back blank and cold. More ding and thrust, more scratch and dig. You try for a grid of Mondrian or Agnes Martin, loosen to Pollack, Cy Twombly wannabe. You heave at the scratches until they’re cuts. You jab at where the cuts criss-cross and swell. Your arms ache and soon a lumbering resignation crowds your heart, like a sigh in the basement that gossips heart attack six years ago. Not pain, just a sense that your body is asking, why are you doing this? But it is to be more bitter chipping at this smalt glass crust, and since this is a minivan the windshield is at an angle and height that denies you balance and leverage and you lean in and twist a painful torque as your fingers grow numb and the rest of you sweats. Your ears ring with the crunching scrape, the scraping crunch, and your glasses fog with the panting breath of the old gray mare pulling that plow, but when would she be pulling a plow in cold enough weather to show frigid breath? Maybe dragging a Donner Party wagon through that shortcut to the feast. And when will the glaze break so that you can see well enough to drive safely to work? When will such scratching, raking, cutting, breaking up yield to a metaphor about putting words together to make stories, putting stories together to make a life? That Kafka quote: a book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us, that’s why you are doing this, you wonder, but then, nothing so exalted or perhaps a lesser version, you are scraping the ice off your minivan to drive to work, so you can make the money that pays for the life that helps sustain your writing. You’ve got about one fifth of it cleared. You go and grab another, smaller scraper from the garage. You try the Dr. Van Helsig Dracula Stake-Pound with your fist, then go back to the bigger scraper and do the over-handed Ahab Harpoon Stab; the underhanded bayonet Sweep and Thrust; the Titanic Shuffleboard Stroke; the plain dull dig down at metaphor-starved, dumb and dumber frigid thing-skating on the stuff. Digging that foxhole into your Dad’s Battle of the Bulge, his entrenchment-tool jabs quickening to the 88 artillery and Panzer tanks, bearing down as you dive headfirst into that sweaty foxhole faith in the words.

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