Sunday, 22 January 2017 14:45

December Poems

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When the trees are naked again winter

Has already arrived and sixty years

Of watching is enough for me to be

Intimately familiar with the change


As if I were walking between rooms and

Leaving softening light and holiday

Colors and entering a space of stark

Contrasts where the bare branches form a wild


Tracery under an often cloudy

Sky and even the slightest coating of

Snow on grass and roofs of homes transforms the

Entire landscape into a study of


The variety of shades white assumes —

Sometimes glowing sometimes within shadows.


I see sparrows and

blue jays and crows sometimes


I will spot chickadees

struggling against the wind.



Nothing is like an onrushing cold for

Grabbing attention as I felt it in

My throat in my voice when I tried to speak

Especially in my nose which began


To run and mostly in my noggin which

Became seasick and then there were the times

When I rose from bed once the congestion

Had taken hold and my back and shoulders


Felt sore my head throbbed as I went to the

Rest room but there is a lighter side to

Getting sick as it took me out of my

Daily routine separating me from


The hamster wheel of doing the same things

Day after day exertion without thought.


Recovery’s not

quite like returning from a

vacation but it

is a rediscovery

of marvelous energy.


A word carries a meaning and a string

Of words make a sentence carrying a

More composed meaning making a point that

May be worth remembering and saying


Hippopotamus makes me wonder why

This pell-mell collection of syllables

Is stuck to that creature because the word

Hippopotamus can’t be said primly


Or lackadaisily without losing

Dignity and if you’re serious when

You say hippopotamus you have to

Use a neutral inflection and also


The cadence should be a bit quicker than

An ordinary word — so be careful.


Usually I

don’t have to enunciate


or also rhinoceros —

But when I do I’m ready.


Imagine a crystal glass of water

Holding the glass and seeing the water

Lifting swallowing and following it

In your mouth throat and chest and isn’t the


Cool water transparent and isn’t it

The taste of no taste but doesn’t it taste

Like nourishment like the essence of health

And while attending to the water it’s


Easy to take a breath to draw the air

In your nostrils feel it in your throat and

Enjoy the swelling of the chest and the

Dissipation of the breath through your nose —


The simple rhythms of life resemble

The wind in the leaves the waves on the sand.


I need to know words

because I need a worthy

direction but then

I want to go further and

live in the place of no words.


I’d rather have asphalt than gravel to

Clear because I’d be throwing away my

Driveway bit by bit with the snow if it

Were loose stones and I’m really grateful for


The hefty snow blower plodding along

Tossing even the heavy snow but when

The temperature is about freezing

The snow is moist and heavy and clogs the


The machine and then it’s amusing to

Thrust away with a loaded shovel and

See the snow sticking to the metal as

My back is bent inharmoniously


So if I could choose make it a cold day

For a storm because the snow’s movable.


Trusting up and out

with the snow rake and pulling


snowy loads off the roof is

cardiovascular fun.


When the wind blows through the bare branches of

The trees on a morning in December

When there’s a chill rising from the snow on

The ground when the sky’s predominately


Cloudy with scattered stretches of blue there’s

A bleakness about the moment as the

Trees epitomize the absence of the

Sun as in stark nakedness they’re swaying


In a fierce wind that’s not leavened with the

Soothing sound of the leaves and yet there’s a

Warmth in my heart and a kind of austere

Beauty about this day that reminds me the


Sun’s not really absent life endures and

I discover fortitude in winter.


Suddenly there’s a

Pileated woodpecker

on the cottonwood

Striking the tree with its beak —

its scarlet head is lovely.

Read 429 times Last modified on Sunday, 22 January 2017 14:52
Barry MacDonald

Editor & Publisher of the St. Croix Review.
More in this category: « A Tribute to Terry J. Kohler
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