Posts Tagged #winter
I drift to this place
where water turns to vapor
where the cold night melts
I’m pleased as punch to have had two stories published this month, and so am taking this moment to celebrate. As any writers out there know, the rejections outnumber the acceptances by a ratio I’d rather not think about. (Plus, I’m not good at math, anyway).
So—check them out some cold winter night (or warm summer night, to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere).
Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal, Winter 2016 • December 24/Unsent (fiction)
Runner-up in Short Fiction Contest, Theme “The Heart of Winter”
Turk’s Head Review, January 2016 • Sea Change (flash fiction)
Another 7×7 poem (seven lines, seven syllables per line.) This one inspired by endings—of seasons, of eras.
Sometimes we hold on too hard;
cling to what should be released—
old, winter-worn, transparent
from time and weather, rattled,
beaten, tattered— it’s hard to
let the familiar fall
away, let new growth emerge
Note: Marcescence is a botanical term that refers to trees that retain withered leaves over the winter. Beeches and some oaks are among the trees that cling to old dead leaves. Though there are several theories, there doesn’t seem to be agreement on why this happens. One school of thought is that beeches and other marcescent trees are still evolving from evergreen to deciduous, caught forever betwixt and between. (I’ve felt that way sometimes, too.)
I haven’t had time to write this week, but I walked in the (last?) snow of the season.
The sky was flat and bright, like an impossibly bright light table. I forgot my sunglasses and found myself squinting. There was a hush, so quiet, it seemed like a Sunday morning.
But the birds were singing like it is spring already, and soon it will be.
Another 7×7 poem
Heater blasting hottest air
seat warmer radiating—
knuckles whiten on the wheel
as Neptune’s tail lashes hard;
it is three degrees below—
my heart catches fire watching
this sunset through driving snow.
Yes, I’m boiling over
I’m stirring the pot,
I walk, listening
for the howler monkeys
their silence echoes
across the silver sky
A red-tailed hawk and a flock of sparrows
whisper in my muffled ears:
to the pond, to the pond, to the pond
words skipping like stones across water
like a needle, stuck
on vinyl that shines like black ice
To the pond, to the pond: insistent
like a tic, like the pot, stirring me
to the pond, to the pond where
three bubblers describe three circles,
liquid centers with white-lipped borders
ice edging dark water
A man is on the ice
walking slowly along the radius
as if walking to an altar
as if on a pilgrimage
he’s tracing an invisible labyrinth
trusting the ice to hold him, or not—
but I see only fearlessness
as I watch, breathing cold air
on the frozen edge
under the silver sky
I lie on my belly on the asphalt sidewalk. It feels cold, even through my down jacket, but the pond has frozen overnight into such beautiful swirls and filigrees of ice, and the morning sun is skimming the frosty patterns in a way I cannot resist. And so I lie down to get a good look. This is a benefit to being older. When I was younger, I was stupidly self-conscious. I’d have worried about what a passerby might have thought, how dumb I’d look. But now I’m at that wonderful age, an age I am trying (when not terrified) to appreciate. Middle age.
I don’t care anymore what people think when I’m taking my daily photos. I contort to get the right angle, I twirl to get motion effects, I regularly lie down on sidewalks if the shot requires it. Luckily, I’m not old enough yet that getting up again is hard. Though I’ll admit my knees groaned in the cold today, and hey—who am I kidding? Odds are good that I’m past the middle, maybe well past.
The clock that runs like a crazy squirrel in my head sometimes runs away with me. I count down backwards. It’s less than 10 months until I hit the age my father was when he died. Or, more hopefully, in thirteen years and eleven months, I’ll hit the age my mother was, when she succumbed. Or it could be tomorrow.
I count the other way, too, to counteract the gloomy final ball-drop thoughts.
Lying on the freezing cold sidewalk, studying the tamarack frond suspended near the icy edge of Burnet Pond, I think of how life’s edges are always so sweet, and how maybe instead of thinking of being in the middle, it’s better to live at the edge, in a place of wonder and appreciation. I’ve been to the edge. If I focus that direction, it all comes into sharp focus. Every new season, every morning’s perfect slant of light, every shared smile, every ached-for kiss — fills me with light.
Two years and eight months ago, my light nearly went out for good, and just a stone’s throw from this pond.
I rise up from the sidewalk and stretch my cold legs, remembering. As I take one last shot, my iPhone dies in my hand. Right then, the light in the treetops across the pond flashes, catches fire—the morning sun is reflecting off the top-floor windows in the tower at Good Samaritan, just over the hill. I know from memory that the light is streaming through the wall of plate glass at the end of the hallway on the Cardiac Telemetry unit, where I stood not so long ago, wired up and monitored, gazing down at the greening canopy of Burnet Woods.
The day I didn’t die, but might have. Every sunrise since has been a bonus. Even so, frozen within me are ancient worries, hard-wired worries about death. But I’m alive. I try to stay right here on the edge, feeling this sliver of now.
Now. Here, and alive.