Tag Archives: Winter

Winter Window

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The longer the winter, the harder to bear the bleak and the cold, I find.  Still, upon entering winter’s wilderness, I cannot deny its beauty, its sublimity.  Here is a wintertime poem composed as I contemplated a winter scene through a glass pane, from the warm inside.

WINTER WINDOW

Watch through the window in winter:

a solitary snowflake
floating innocently down
to catch, and slowly fade,
on the frosted ground;

a stray photon
flying from a distant minor star,
surviving massing clouds
and a creeping fog;

a shriveled gambel leaf
yielding finally to the nagging wind
and wafting without will
to alien ground;

a slow fly
bouncing repeatedly, futilely, against the clear pane,
falling to convalesce upon the sill, unaware that
on the other side exists a lonesome sterility and a cold unable to bear.

Through Winter’s Window

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Working at my home office today while convalescing after foot surgery, a little flock of finches and sparrows landed in the crabapple tree outside my window and began to eat the tiny pea-sized fruits.  A living poem, I thought.  Having promised myself never to deny, or even to delay, inspiration, I wrote the poem that came: Through Winter’s Window.  I hope you find it a spot of warmth on this freezing Winter day.

THROUGH WINTER’S WINDOW

fidgety finches, purple bibbed,
nibble nervously on
purple crabapple fruits,
not whole berries,
but tiny snatches and pecks,
wiping beaks on branches
when the sticky pulp sticks

watching from within walls, me,
through gridded, two-paned glass,
through slanted shutters
and dark nylon micro screen;
still I see the fidgety finches,
joined, now, by sparrows
brown on brown

round, scarlet leaves of fall
have fallen; only the marble
fruits hang on
though winds gust, throwing snow,
and winter sun appears
a weak old bulb
on the world’s periphery

but the red-throated finches
and striped sparrows land in
a happy-dozen flock to nibble and talk,
to swipe and nibble and talk,
seeing not nor caring
that I watch
unhearing from inside

Separation

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The week I moved out I began singing again with the Salt Lake Choral Artists, a 200-voice audition community choir.  I needed the music.  Music to soothe my anxiety and sadness at being separated after 25 years of marriage.  At times waves of sadness crashed over me, ground me into the gravel of life.  I needed the music.  Our Christmas and holiday repertoire included some of the most moving melodies I had ever heard.  In one rehearsal the director shouted at me, “Everybody is singing here!”  I nodded, but my throat was choked up and tears stung my eyes.  I needed this music.  Still, the long drive “home” after rehearsal on dark, freezing winter nights, terminating at my construction zone apartment, mattress on the floor, wardrobe in my duffel, the thermostat set at 50, brought the waves crashing again, the music notwithstanding.  This poem attempts to describe that difficult time.

SEPARATION

The cold brings it on,
and the darkness.
The long drive dredges it
up, even after
the singing, after
three hours of wonderful
singing, the long winter drive
to a place that wasn’t home,
where I shivered in my bed
and thought of the woman
that used to be mine.

Snow

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A snowy Rabbit Lane

In arid Utah we are grateful for snows that persist through March, April, and sometimes even into May.  I remember a May 1993 snowstorm that dropped a full three feet of new snow on the streets and yards of Salt Lake City, the year after I returned from being a Fulbright Scholar in Portugal to live with my grandmother, Dora.  These Spring snows add high-mountain snow pack that continues to slowly percolate thousands of feet through fractured bedrock, into valley aluvia, recharging the aquifers that allow us to turn the desert into a rose.  So, even though I post this poem at the end of March, it is still snow season in Utah.  I hope you enjoy the poem.

SNOW

Sky lets down her snow
in slow and heavy flakes
all the long day
as if the world, everywhere,
has never known but snow:
slow and easy, flakes
perching undetected
in my thinning hair,
granting shy moist cool
kisses on the bulb
of my nose, on my soft
sagging cheeks, crystals resting
on lashes looking up
to a distant gentle font.
Wind does not dare to blow.

Brown Oak Leaf

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Several years ago I joined an expedition of older boy scouts, including my son, Brian, for a winter campout between the Christmas and New Year holidays.  At the top of Settlement Canyon, we spread insulating straw over the snow-covered tent sites, then shoveled out a foot of snow around the edge of the tents so we could sink the steel tent stakes in the hard ground.  I grew restless after eating my tin-foil dinner and visiting with the others for an hour or so, and set off for a winter walk.  Though the sun had long set, the moon and stars shown through the leafless Gambel Oaks and Mountain Maples to reflect brightly on the white snow.  The utter beauty of my surroundings suddenly washed over me transcendently.  Later in the night, in my tent, bundled up against near zero-degree weather, I turned on my headlamp and scratched out this poem.

BROWN OAK LEAF

A brown oak leaf
dangles from a stray gossamer string,
spinning like a winter whirligig,
reaching down to her sisters,
intercepted in her journey
to the resting place of all deciduous foliate life.
The cool air caresses the brown oak leaf
with the sweet fragrance of powder-green sage
and the sweet fragrance of the fallen-leaf loam
that rests, decomposing,
yielding to the hard earth
its fertile essence
to bless Spring’s
purple taper tip onion,
elegant sego lily, and
infant leafy-green canopy.
The dry leaf’s mother oak,
dressed in velvety orange-green lichens,
clings with tangled roots,
like the tentacles of ten octopi,
sinking their tendril tips into the high stream bank.
She joins her bare branches
to a thousand denuded tree tops,
waving randomly like
the up-stretched arms of
so many entranced worshippers
flexing toward their god.

(“Brown Oak Leaf” was previously published in the Summer 2007 edition of Avocet: A Journal of Nature Poems.)

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Winter

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Come February I truly begin to tire of Winter’s weary landscape.  Everything is brown.  I want the trees and roses to bud.  I want the bulb flowers to rise.  I want the peach and apricot trees to blossom.  I want to feel the renewal of life.

WINTER

Winter has lain
long and heavy
on the landscape,
pressing pliable grass blades,
weighing down supple apply boughs.
Too long
has the sky hung
gray overhead.

4 degrees F

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My phone registers 4 degrees Fahrenheit as I walk this New Year’s Eve morning on Rabbit Lane. I do not enjoy the cold, but I know that I will find beauty on Rabbit Lane, despite the adversity, or perhaps because of it.  I am wearing as many layers as my boots, pants, and coat can accommodate.  Brisk movement is my best protection.  Also, the air is still, and the brilliant sun shines warm on my back, cutting through the cold.

Despite having completed the manuscript of my book Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road, which I am posting on this blog one chapter at a time, I know that the true story will never be fully told.  Beautiful things will happen every hour of every day that deserve telling.  The spirits of people passed on will whisper, You forgot about me.

Today, I come upon Russian Olive trees still sporting abundant fruits, burnished by months of hanging in the sun (photo above).  A Red-shafted Northern Flicker launches from a tree, flapping furiously, then torpedoes through the air without wing-beats, then flaps furiously again, sporting its white tail patch and orange primary underwings.  Torpedo.  Flap.  Dive.  Beat. There is always something new, something beautiful.

This poem attempts to capture the paradox of having completed something that can never be complete.  I hope you enjoy this last glimpse of Rabbit Lane from 2014.

POSTSCRIPTS TO A PARADOX

My manuscript is finished.
Everything there was to write, I wrote.
All the notes have been transcribed, expanded, and stitched up.
I proofread it, twice, and double-checked the formatting.
I capitalized the name of each Bird and Butterfly and Tree and Flower.
Now there is only rejoicing, recounting, and remembering.
But nothing new can happen.
My manuscript is finished.

PSs.
Bruce told me a story,
a good one, about Harvey,
that I hadn’t heard before.

Horses ran to the fence to greet us,
cheerfully, kicking up snow
and snorting steam.

Long after sunset
a thinning patch in heavy gray snow
clouds still held light, Hannah (8) pointed out.

Witch’s Tree is rotting,
her skin and flesh flaking off
into the dry waste of Witch’s Pond.

Old Cottonwood has unquestionably grown
beyond his once 17-foot girth,
though his tree-top branches languish.

(But nothing new can happen.)