He always came on Fridays, hobnailed
boots clacking down our brick path,
past the bins and chooks pulling weeds.

I would hold the back door open and
step aside, the immense cold he carried
wafting in his wake. I shivered as he eased

the sugar-bagged block off his shoulder
and prodded it into place with a steel hook.
This old man whose name we never knew

was the only person to set foot in our sun
room or anywhere else. Give them an inch
and they take a mile
, my mother warned.

The day he didn’t come was winter-cold
and mum locked the door, returned one
shilling and sixpence to the tea caddy.

Later we heard that the iceman died
gripping the reins of Molly, his carthorse.
One block remained on the tray.

More poems from the collection Blood Plums

Winter's Chill - Ballarat