winter

Unable to Decide, While We Trudge

Fernand Toussaint (Belgian artist, 1873-1955) Lady in the Green Dress with MirrorDear Spring
by Charles Simic

Will you please hurry with your preparations?
We are freezing up north as you procrastinate
Like a rich lady with too many gorgeous outfits
To choose from, spending hours in front of
A mirror, trying them on and unable to decide,

While we trudge to the mailbox through wind
And snow, extract our unwilling fingers
From a glove to check if there’s a letter
From you, or just a bitty postcard, saying:
I’m leaving Carolina today, hurrying your way
With my new wardrobe of flowers and birds.

The tease! I bet she starts and forgets one of her
Hand-painted silk fans and has to go back,
While we stamp our feet and wipe our noses here,
Worrying the wood for the stove is running out,
The snow on the roof will bring the house down.

Back in My Place

"All visuals captured in camera by back projecting the animated story into the breaths of the band. In the same way that you can see your breath on a cold day, we filmed at -1ºC (30ºF) to make the animations appear."

~ Wriggles & Robins

Moving
by Travis, from Where You Stand

Another day,
I feel the weight
of the atmosphere’s pressure
and I can’t escape

I try to run, I try to find my feet,
my soul is stickin' to the street;

I gotta move,
I gotta get myself
to clean my shoes
and take the scenic route

However far, I’m following a star
Home is anywhere you are

And everything is falling into place
And then we move again
So take the curve and move along
Until we’re gone, we’re moving on (and on and on and on...)

I feel alive, I am aware
of the colors in the sky where the birds don’t fly
And if the night is coming pretty soon
I’m walking through the dark with you

I’ve got to play
I’ve got to listen
to my toy today
on the motorway

And I could feel the ground
beneath my wheels,
putting me back in my place

Another day, another place
where I can find my way
take the Avenue A

And I know exactly where to go
Home is anywhere you stay


See also: "Animated Music Video Filmed Through a Band’s Breath in Freezing Temperatures by Wriggles & Robins," Colossal, July 2, 2013

Everything Flowers from Within

St. Francis and the Sow
by Galway Kinnell, from Mortal Acts, Mortal Words 

The bud
stands for all things,
even those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow. 

To Behold and Not To Think

Topiary Park, January 26, 2013

The Snow Man
by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Part of the Earth

December 26, 2012

Storm
by James Tate 

The snow visits us,
taking little bits of us with it,
to become part of the earth,
an early death and an early return— 

like the filing of tax forms.
And all you can say after adding up
column after column: “I’m not myself.”

And all you can say after the long night
of searching for one certain scrap of paper:
“It never existed.”

And when all the lamps are lit
and the smell of the stew
has followed you upstairs
and slipped under the door of your study:
“The lute is telling the story
of the life I might have lived,
had I not—” 

In my study, which is without heat,
in mid-January, in the hills
of a northern province—only
the thin white-haired volumes
of poetry speak, quietly, like
unfed birds on a night visit 

to a cat farm. And an airplane is lost
in a storm of fitting pins.
The snow falls, far into the interior.

Suddenly the Whole House Made Sense

Zero
by George Bilgere, from The White Museum

Photo by Lisa Ann Robertson, used without permission.

First it was five above, then two,
then one morning just plain zero.
There was a strange thrill in saying it.
It's zero, I said,
when you got up.

I was pouring your coffee
and suddenly the whole house made sense:
the roof, the walls, the little heat registers
rattling on the floor. Even the mortgage. Zero,
you said, still in your robe.

And you walked to the window and looked out
at the blanket of snow on the garden
where last summer you planted carrots
and radishes, sweet peas and onions,
and a tiny rainforest of tomatoes
in the hot delirium of June.

Yes, I said, with a certain grim finality,
staring at the white cap of snow on the barbecue grill
I'd neglected to put in the garage for winter.
And the radio says it could go lower.

I like that robe. It's white and shimmery,
and has a habit of falling open
unless you tie it just right.

This wasn't the barbarians at the gate.
It wasn't Carthage in flames, or even
the Donner Party. But it was zero, by God,
and the robe fell open.

[Follow George Bilgere on Facebook]

 

What’s a Flower?

February
by Dar Williams

I threw your keys in the water, I looked back,
They’d frozen halfway down in the ice.
They froze up so quickly, the keys and their owners,
Even after the anger, it all turned silent, and
The everyday turned solitary,
So we came to February.

First we forgot where we’d planted those bulbs last year,
Then we forgot that we’d planted at all,
Then we forgot what plants are altogether,
and I blamed you for my freezing and forgetting and
The nights were long and cold and scary,
Can we live through February?

You know I think Christmas was a long red glare,
Shot up like a warning, we gave presents without cards,
And then the snow,
And then the snow came, we were always out shoveling,
And we’d drop to sleep exhausted,
Then we’d wake up, and its snowing.

And February was so long that it lasted into March
And found us walking a path alone together.
You stopped and pointed and you said, "That’s a crocus,"
And I said, "What’s a crocus?" and you said, "It's a flower,"
I tried to remember, but I said, "What’s a flower?"
You said, "I still love you."

The leaves were turning as we drove to the hardware store,
My new lover made me keys to the house,
And when we got home, well we just started chopping wood,
Because you never know how next year will be,
And we'll gather all our arms can carry,
I have lost to February.

How Endless is this Whiteness

Buddha Weeping in Winter
by E. Ethelbert Miller, from Buddha Weeping in Winter

snow falling on prayers
covering the path
made by your footprints

I wait for spring
and the return of love

how endless
is this whiteness
like letters
without envelopes

LIsten to E. Ethelbert Miller reading from more of his work at “Black & Universal,” Speaking of Faith, February 11, 2010

Not Missing Anything

Homeostasis
by Daron Larson

The chill slipped through my skin
right into my marrow
where it took root and blossomed.
You offered me a drink
of your coffee
which we both know
is much stronger than I can take.

Made me consider how often
people have to weigh a degree of bitterness
against our thirst for warmth.

I met a woman who drinks hot water
every morning.
Says she never really liked coffee
or tea,
but she enjoys cradling a warm mug
in her cold hands.
Says she doesn’t feel like she’s missing anything.

There must be fifty ways
I haven’t yet imagined
to warm these bones.

Everyone’s Dream

Being a Person
by William Stafford

Be a person here. Stand by the river, invoke
the owls. Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own
call. After that sound goes away, wait.

A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.

Suddenly this dream you are having matches
everyone's dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn't be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.

How you stand here is important. How you
listen for the next things to happen. How you breathe.

Blessed by Doubt

April 5, 1974
by Richard Wilbur, from New and Collected Poems

The air was soft, the ground still cold.
In the dull pasture where I strolled
Was something I could not believe.
Dead grass appeared to slide and heave,
Though still too frozen-flat to stir,
And rocks to twitch, and all to blur.
What was this rippling of the land?
Was matter getting out of hand
And making free with natural law?
I stopped and blinked, and then I saw
A fact as eerie as a dream,
There was a subtle flood of steam
Moving upon the face of things.
It came from standing pools and springs
And what of snow was still around;
It came of winter's giving ground
So that the freeze was coming out,
As when a set mind, blessed by doubt,
Relaxes into mother-wit.
Flowers, I said, will come of it.

[More by Richard Wilbur at The Writer’s Almanac.]

Bright Sun after Heavy Snow

by Jane Kenyon, from The Boat of Quiet Hours

The Boat of Quiet Hours A ledge of ice slides from the eaves,
piercing the crusted drift. Astonishing
how even a little violence
eases the mind.

In this extreme state of light
everything seems flawed: the streaked
pane, the forced bulbs on the sill
that refuse to bloom...A wad of dust
rolls like a desert weed
over the drafty floor.

Again I recall a neighbor's
small affront — it rises in my mind
like the huge banks of snow along the road:
the plow, passing up and down all day,
pushes them higher and higher...

The shadow of smoke rising from the chimney
moves abruptly over the yard.
The clothesline rises in the wind. One
wooden pin is left, solitary as a finger;
it, too, rises and falls.

[Thanks Garrison Keillor!]

Loss Can Be Beautiful

Upon Discovering My Entire Solution to the Attainment of Immortality Erased From the Blackboard Except the Word ‘Save’

by Dobby Gibson, from Polar

Polar If you have seen the snow
somewhere slowly fall
on a bicycle,
then you understand
all beauty will be lost
and that even that loss
can be beautiful.
And if you have looked
at a winter garden
and seen not a winter garden
but a meditation on shape,
then you know why
this season is not
known for its words,
the cold too much
about the slowing of matter,
not enough about the making of it.
So you are blessed
to forget this way:
a jump rope in the ice melt,
a mitten that has lost its hand,
a sun that shines
as if it doesn’t mean it.
And if in another season
you see a beautiful woman
use her bare hands
to smooth wrinkles
from her expensive dress
for the sake of dignity,
but in so doing trace
the outlines of her thighs,
then you will remember
surprise assumes a space
that has first been forgotten,
especially here, where we
rarely speak of it,
where we walk out onto the roofs
of frozen lakes
simply because we’re stunned
we really can.