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Thursday, April 16, 2015


by Paula Schulz

Rodney Todd cared for his seven children, running their Princess Anne household, preparing meals and then working in dining services at a nearby college. For his five daughters, "he did their hair," said Lloyd Edwards, Todd's stepfather. All of them — Todd, 36, and his children ages 6 to 15 — were found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in their modest, one-story, yellow-siding home on Antioch Avenue on Monday. Police said Tuesday that they died in bed and a power generator with an empty gas tank was found inside the house. "It appears as though they were sleeping," Princess Anne police Chief Scott Keller said. "Probably it was bedtime and they decided they needed some light and probably some heat. ... Even though it was spring we were having some pretty chilly nights." Edwards said Todd had a generator because the electricity had been shut off at the home. —Jessica Anderson, Colin Campbell and Catherine Rentz, The Baltimore Sun, April 7, 2015

When the winter is long and you are cold,
when the calendar says “spring” but the air
won’t keep heat, when even your bones feel old
and you haven’t enough blankets or clothes to layer--

your father’s face is pain.  He must find a way
to beat back chill misery that has crept
into you, the furniture, the walls  . . .  may-
be a generator.  So while eight sleep

(seven children and their father at last
blessed by a late-August harvest-heat)
the terrible machine eats away their last
oxygen.      I see you now as husks of wheat,

golden, rising against a summer sky,
twin to the sun that sparks you alive:
windmill, water wheel, tilt-a-whirl glide.
Carousel, Ferris wheel, carnival-ride-

happy.  Electric slide, boogaloo moving

and endless, in a burnished moment
warm as human breath.

Author’s note: whhuu - onomatopoeic for last breath  Unvoiced, as in blowing out a candle but without force.

Paula Schulz is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, a recent Pushcart nominee and an educator.  She is hopeful, blue.