Between the lines: The man on the pole

A lineman carefully reaches up to hang a fuse. From Dawson PPD’s archives.

A lineman carefully reaches up to hang a fuse.
From Dawson PPD’s archives.

By Gwen Kautz, General Manager
gkautz at


This poem was provided by a Dawson PPD employee. Its source is unknown.


The darkening dusk and thin driving snow make it feel much colder than two below.

The wind rasps the snow like sharp cutting sand, brushes bare frozen trees with icy hand.

Stiff branches creak with the weight of the wind which will sing its chill dirge for hours on end. No pinpoint of light pricks the gloom of the street, night’s dark will descend soon, frozen complete.

By the curb stands a truck, its tail to the storm; around it gray drifts have started to form.

Dimply discerned are the lines of its back, the high yellow top, with side ladder rack.

Like a packhorse it stands, hock deep in the snow, as patiently waiting, with head hanging low; motionless there in the falling dark, its flasher repeating their sharp red spark.

Above, on a pole, in the ominous sky a snow-blurred figure works on high.

Clings to his perch with spurs of cold steel, arches his back to the safety strap feel.

Desperately he twists the stiff, stubborn wires, his thoughts running home to warm glowing fires.

He pulls with numbed hands, his face a chill mask, with fast-ebbing strength, completes his lone task.

Now light sprays from windows all down the street, a radio blares loudly, then becomes more discreet.

Somewhere a dog barks his plea at a door; light and life have come back to the street once more.

The man on the pole draws a long-tired sigh, then picks his way slowly down out of the sky.

The cold hours of labor have taken their toll; he rests for a moment against the hard pole.

To the truck he plodding makes his way, stows his tools in the back and drives away.

Not a soul in those houses, now bright and warm, knows, that he’s been there, out in the storm.

Silently working to bring them light, as silently fading into the night.

When work-a-day heroes are inscribed on the roll, we too often forget the man on the pole.


January 2018

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