It’s the first week of February.
Wild apples picked in October
have shriveled into themselves.
No longer suitable for apple pie
we dump them out for the herd of deer
that haunted our woods through
January, scavenging among spruce,
standing on hind legs in the snow
to reach the buds of high-bush and tree.
There’s no distinction on the ground––
everything was eaten as we found
the morning after a moonlit meal in Maine.
After all these years her reduction to ashes
sits unmolested on the fireplace mantle,
her mother afraid to let her go underground.
Her father had found her frozen in death
his and her mother’s love not enough
to save her from the cold and loneliness
of depression, that folded her in on herself.
If only she’d called, they’d have heard and come
running with hope for a new beginning.
Off you go on your tractor to split the wood.
Seems I’m always hailing you from a distance,
you at your work, I at mine watching you,
recording your work on a day in spring
that is already looking through summer
to the cold trap of winter beyond, knowing
the flare of color in fall a brief fire
that will not last but will end as we will––
brown and sere––pushed off our branch
by the buds of another spring.
March snow inches in
from the edge of the field
to the warming center
where sun and sod converge
in a soggy melt
as our wooden fingers,
our wooden toes
are warmed from the center
when blood flows out to extremities
trembling, and awaiting relief.
All is a-melt, including my soul
bound tight these months
by cords of cold that release it
gently, so as not to shock
with the feverish heat of change.
I would sweep the world clean with my yellow broom
but all I am asked to do is sweep my own
room, which is my world in this latter hour
when the sun sets early and naught flowers,
when all sinks deeper with each passing day
into the freezing ground that calls to sleep.
Fly-specked and dusty and perfectly mine
is this space for poetry out of time
where worry troubles not the moted air.
Once over the threshold nary a care
can raise its fleecy bothersome head
demanding attention I’ve already shed
when doffing my coat and winter hat
and lighting a fire, spit-spat.
Done, I assume the writer’s seat
pick up the pen and relish the heat.
Ink on paper, word on tongue …
a chant that can be daily sung
to invoke the Muse in all its glory
and contribute one note to the human story.