Now It Is Really Winter

 

It is cold and it has been cold for days,

The cold that singes your cheeks

And makes your eyes run,

And your tears freeze.

Burningly cold.

 

So cold and dry the air feels like sand.

So cold that even with thick socks and mittens

Feet and hands feel buried in cold, sharp, dry sand

Drawing out the heat and moisture

Desiccately cold.

 

And it is quiet, dead still and cut off.

The windows and doors are closed and sealed

Two, even three deep, holding the cold dead air,

And curtained. The heavy drapes

Silencing the whoosh of traffic,

The thud of human steps

And the birds brittle song.

Deafeningly cold.

 

Inside, closed in and cut off as in a crypt,

Alone, holding a weeks-long breath of arctic air,

Staring at the white blankness of paper,

I chip words out of my frozen thoughts

As I listen to the booming in the walls

And the cracking of encasing ice.

Perhaps it is terminally cold,

Mummifyingly cold.

January 2018

Cold Comes in January

Crows on our snow pile,

Crows in the back yard,

Our frozen crows in January

Put us on our guard. Sleek and black,

Blacker than the snow filled night,

Like the squirrels, they point north.

 

The rooster on the garage roof points north too.

You’d think there was something good coming that way.

There’s snow and wind and cold,

And it’s been coming that way all night and day.

 

It’s a January day.

The bird feeder swings back and forth

And round and round.

Sparrows jump on and off, up and down

Like children on and off

A playground merry-go-round,

Laughing, arguing, screaming with delight.

 

The wind whips and whistles,

Blowing and bending as it goes.

The temperature is sinking, and it’s early still,

But it’s not still. It’s biting.

 

The wind fills its breath with snow,

Greying the air, filling the lately shoveled walk,

Clouding the car windows,

Merging the leaf pile with the piled snow.

 

And now they’re gone,

The crows on our snow pile,

The crows in the back yard.

They soared into the tall trees,

Waiting, watching, cawing,

Waiting for January to take its toll.

January 2014

A Lamp Is Lit

Chilling ghosts drift across the heavens.

Fragile fingers spread into a stream,

A suffocating, wan December sky,

Blankets coldly, easing downward,

And, humbly, we succumb.

Thus nullified, we rest,

And try to recover and rebuild.

We breathe slowly, and invest in solemnity.

We design aimlessly and conspire with phantoms.

We plan and plot and prepare. And for what?

We wait. For waiting is the last resort,

The final function, the night watch

When all the leaves have been stripped away,

When the brown ground lies fallow

And the lifeless sky presses down.

We are left on our own, alone at last.

Our winter’s wood has all been cut and stacked.

A kettle’s on the stove. Bread is in the oven.

The door is shut and barred. A lamp is lit.

It’s quiet now, and in the evening,

Dreams, unfulfilled, drift blindly to the ground.

They calm our solitude and sanctify our peace.

And in the spring, there won’t be any tracks.

December 2013

Dreams

Another evening, as the light grows dim,
And crystal cold air crackles around the black oak,
The last few sparrows dart and chitter, grabbing one last seed.
Snow drifts down, silent, peaceful and dreamy.

In the dark come the dreams of sun and green.
In the petrifying cold come vague sensations of softness and warmth.
Behind the frozen puffs of breath come phantom whiffs of rain and trees in bloom.
In the deadly grey and black of night come fantastic visions of flowers dancing in the wind –
.     Tulips, jonquils, scillas, snowdrops –
.     Red, yellow, blue, white –
.     White as snow.
Another February night drifts into snowy blackness and dreams of spring.

February 2013

On a Mountain Pass

From the banks and curves of a sunny meadow,
The white road dives
Into a brooding spruce curtain,
Its dark green deepening darker still
Under its emerald arms,
Its tops impaling an infinite sky,
Its deep blue darkening deeper still
Toward a sapphire zenith,
An arc etched on a mountain pass,
Its brilliant white glinting brighter still
Across the diamond crest.

The scene is ever caught, frozen, fixed,
A crystallized, thin-air gasp, instantly silenced,
Beauty motionless, soundless, timeless,
The place between one second
And the next, and now eternal,
Frozen in the ice of time,
Sealed upon the soul’s eye,
A green, blue and white land,
A memory before story,
Met forever one winter day,
A chance unlooked for and profound.

January 2013 – 40 years later

November 2012

When the water in the dogs’ dish
by the coffee shop door
is a broken chunk of ice,
encasing a single yellow maple leaf,

When a misty film grows
on the inside of the windshield
as the defroster blows moist air
that strains to clear the crystal
maple leaves of frost on the outside,

When the last rich aroma
of leaf mold and mums,
the last warm colors
of maple and aspen trees,
the valiant purple and blue asters,
have ended in an ozone of frozen air,

In a morning, in a moment it seems,
that’s when my mortality peeps
through cracks and around edges
and looks me in the eye.

November 2012

%d bloggers like this: