Wednesday, January 19, 2011


They warn us of the cruelest month—
April with its chill, withheld promise;
And they tell us the veil grows thin on All Hallows Eve,
a shiver in the year's circle.

But what about January?
When the world itself is worn thin,
And we venture outside swaddled, wobbling like penguins.

The lucky ones travel south.
"Snow birds," as if magically transfigured.
And the rest of us? Carp frozen into the lake bottom.

There's no drama to this cold.
It's dull and it dulls the mind's knife:
The routine, the wind, the utter lack of scent.
All the little dailies and monthlies,
The clockworks of our lives
Spinning around in the dry arctic silence.

Flame is good.
Candles at dinner; a fireplace, a bonfire.
Hot coffee, chocolate, whiskey.
Hearthed or cupped, held clasped
As if it might run off into the darkness without us.

And in the dark bed, a warm body,
All the warm bodies, lying in wait for the air to warm between them.