Thursday, December 18, 2008

A WINTER LONG PAST



A WINTER LONG PAST


Trudging in snow as heavy as sand,
I pressed on toward those memories
Of lost winter games,
And breath forming crystals
On window panes
Like magic barnacles.


The bitter cold, then, made my legs
Burn and itch by the fire.
I raked the frozen cells
With my fingernails
Until trails of blood appeared.


My hair was damp and icy
Under the heavy wool
That imprinted vertical
Lines on my mind.


I had been the fox in the field,
Running in the heavy snow
To catch a rabbit slow.
Cunning in my slyness –
Running in my shyness –
I caught the sluggish ones,
Who lived nearby.


But, that was years ago.
Now the snow that I struggle through
Is just snow – a nuisance – a drudgery.
I watch as a single snowflake,
As huge as the moon, falls silently
On my infant’s warm cheek
And melts instantly away.

17 comments:

Catvibe said...

I watch as a single snowflake,
As huge as the moon, falls silently
On my infant’s warm cheek
And melts instantly away.

ohh...what a beautiful image, I wonder if you speak of your inner infant or your child...

A beautiful if not melancholy capture. In an odd way, it has a certain symmetry with Sarah's Diana poem. Although you are the fox, not the hunter. I just love coming here.

PS, word was patron. :-)

Scott said...

What this stirs in me is the memory of winter as a child, what it meant to me then. Now it means that once again I have to crank up the snow blower--and do I have enough salt for the sloped driveway? Winter was magical to me too, and as a parent I have to remember those days and try to capture some of the old magic, even if I'm fooling myself it makes all the difference. We bought a family ski membership at a mountain in New Hampshire, and there is no pretending how fun that is.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Cat - I wrote this many years ago - so the infant was my own sweet baby. So glad that you find
something here that resonates. I hope you will always visit. Many thanks! ;)



Scott - that is it exactly. Years ago, I was having some difficulty walking through snow - a couple of feet deep, when I harkened back to those snow days as a child when it was "all play-all day"! The deeper the better.

I always had fun with the kids in the snow - still do have fun sledding and all, but not like when I was a child.

Your NH trips must be wonderful. Enjoy!

Julie said...

You have some beautiful and very powerful images here, K! I love this poem, as I love all of your work. The blood trails on the legs, of course, is a powerful image. And I love how you end the poem with the snow melting on your infant child's cheek. The images begin with your memories and end with the beauty of today. Wonderful!

Rick said...

Hello k! I've been traveling again, but what a wonderful poem to come home to enjoy. So many powerful images in this poem that I will have to come back and read it again. Your site is always a blessing to come home to.

Catvibe said...

Yes my dear, as long as I am a blogger with a computer permanently attached to the tips of my finger, you will see me here. :-) I delight in your work.

trooping with crows said...

What was it about winter that you loved so much as a child and not now as an adult? I think alot of people share this thought. When I was a child I looked forward to snow days, Christmas, sleigh riding, etc., etc. Now it's the dread of driving on bad roads, paying the heating bill, and winter lasting until April!
I do want to say , though, that I do still love winter for it's obvious beauty and magic. I think you must love things about it, too, or else why choose it as a muse for this poem?

A very appropriate poem after getting about 6 inches yesterday!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Julie - Yes, I was hoping that the progression was evident. I wrote that poem years ago...I can't believe how time is flying at -light speed! I appreciate your kind words and the honesty with which you say them.



Rick - Glad you are back. I miss you when you are traveling around! I truly appreciate your comment. That is so nice of you to say. Thanks, my friend. ;)



Cat - that is so sweet. I enjoy your work, too. *?*



Trooping with Crows - Haha! You are right everything is relative - snow to a kid is so exciting, but to us - well, all the things you mentioned - and the gist of this poem.

But, I do love snowy days - there is something so magical and pristine about snow piling high, lining trees, and sparkling in lamplights. I am glad we are having snow for Christmas this year - but I do worry about all the travelers- my little merry band, and others.

KGT (aka Cagey) said...

Wonderful "Winter Wonderland revisited" ... a theme for me as well as of late. Like many things simple and contextual, the more complicated our lives become, the more difficult it is to appreciate what was once the source of joy or inspiration, even if they are beautiful, like snow.

Here in upstate NY we are still digging out.

Karen said...

Trudging is what we do too often now, but the wonderful thing about memory is that for a brief moment we can become the fox in the field again. Thanks for bringing that back with this poem.

Your poetry, as personal as it is, never fails to pluck a common chord and give me something that feels like it's mine, too.

Sarah Hina said...

So many moments that caught my breath here, K...And breath forming crystals on window panes like magic barnacles...the wool imprinting vertical lines on the mind. The transition from powerful fox to more seasoned protector. The world of her youth behind her, yet still ahead of her infant.

I felt a little bit of hope by the end. Like maybe she'll recapture some of that playfulness and magic with her child. But you're right--it's never quite the same. Time feels so precious once it's behind us.

As poignant and beautiful as ever, K. A ghost of Christmases past.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Cagey - It's true, we become so engrossed in that which we "do" - that sometimes we forget to be silly or have fun, or just appreciate what once made us joyful! I have little ones around me, so I am always afforded the opportunity to play. ;)

We lucked out! We only got about 10inches of snow between the two storms. Hope you are all dug out now.



Karen - You are very welcome.
And, yes, true enough - we trudge. Our memories, though, are little movies that we can watch at a moment's notice - that make us slow down, at least for a minute, to think.

That is what I love about poetry - we find our own stories in the words of others.

"... as personal as it is, never fails to pluck a common chord..." -Thanks, my friend. *?*



Sarah - That is why I love writing poetry so much...one can really be creative in expression.

Yes, her childhood gone, but re-visited in her own dear baby. Isn't that the lovely thing about life? Thanks, dear Sarah. ;)

Vesper said...

This poem is full of beautiful images, too many to quote...
I do love winter, now even more through my kids... The beauty of its display makes me forget the cold.

gel said...

I can see you and I feel the intense struggles through your vivid penning. I want to warm you up by the fire without pain. This piece makes me wonder if you ran for fun or for food...Even years later, these memories are fresh and etched. I'm not sure if this is what you're conveying but to me you're nurturing your infant (warm cheek) with love and hope for a different life than yours. Regardless, this is engaging poetic autobiography.

jason evans said...

Childhood is such a gigantic thing. Not sure we ever live that large again.

blue possum said...

I really do love this poem! Something about it seems familiar to me, though!! ;)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Vesper - somehow I missed these comments, Please forgive me. I make peace with winter - I have to say it does seem to fly by now. That is the good thing.



Gel - thank you very much for your astute ponderings and remarks. I know you feel life very deeply and understand its underside. Blessings to you.


Jason - yes, I know you really mean that from a personal standpoint. No, we live vicariously - but nothing quite measures up. Thanks, my friend.



Blue Possum - perhaps you were carried in the arms of your own dear mother in a snow storm? It would leave an indelible impresson. <3 Sorry I didn't respond before - I have to adjust my comment mode thingie....