Bleeding Out

Not Dead Yet but Just Wait

By Ron McFarland

Pretty much everyone draws blood when attaching snow chains, right? I certainly always did so when I undertook such a complex and dangerous challenge. Fortunately, I’ve moved on to studded or fully siped snow tires—in which a machine makes tiny cuts in the tread to improve handling—thereby obviating the necessity of wrestling with those heavy, awkward, rusty chains that must’ve been invented by some madman and that likely threaten users with the bacterium that causes lockjaw.

Of course, snow chains are invariably applied under duress here in the Idaho Panhandle. One does not anticipate their need on a cold day devoid of ice and snow, temps in the forties, let’s say, and slap them on in hopes they will be needed, if not required, on the morrow. Imagine clanking around town on barren roads for days as you await a healthy dose of snow and ice. No. One struggles with the damnable contraptions the morning after the blizzard, or indeed of the blizzard, when the thermometer records something in the twenties, winds gusting over 30 mph, and one cannot hitch up those chains while wearing one’s mittens or ski gloves but must risk one’s bare phalanges. At the struggle’s end, one’s knuckles are bloody, but per the poet, one’s noggin is unbowed.

And so it is that come spring, my soul having proven unconquerable even as my knuckles have bled, I confront the prospect of connecting the garden hoses to the faucets. Have you ever noticed how sharp the brass so-called male end of a faucet can be? Well, I certainly have. Attaching the supposedly receptive female end of the hose to the presumably eager male threads of the faucet’s spout often (I almost wrote “invariably”) proves more perilous than one might imagine. Often, then, one must employ an adjustable wrench, and any tool in my hands can render such an undertaking hazardous. Blood will surely flow. I can’t speak for others, but for me the hose end never seems to meet the threaded spout at an appropriate angle, and it’s in the process of trying to work out the complex solid geometry that I usually cut my right forefinger at about the second knuckle. Or if that fails and I must resort to the wrench, you may be confident I’ll manage to bleed somewhere between the hose end and the faucet handle.

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Ron McFarland

About Ron McFarland

Ron McFarland is professor emeritus at the University of Idaho, where he started teaching literature and creative writing in 1970. Pecan Grove Press published his fourth full-length book of poems, Subtle Thieves, in 2012. His critical books include Appropriating Hemingway (2015) and Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars (2016).