Winter PoemsBy Kathleen M. Tenpas (Kathleen)
January 2, 2014
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on February 6, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)
to the north
and dried leaves left
on the little maple
rattle with the chill.
Bright days and crisp nights
lead us to the solstice
and promises of flurries
decorate our minds.
Crack the Whip
snow comes, turns to rain
goes over to snow
the jet stream
crack the whip
clothe the evening sky
quilted by small flights
of late season geese,
new snow hangs heavy
in the cedar break
and small birds
stitch down the drifts
under willow and pear tree.
December settles into itself
heavy on atmosphere, and unapologetic.
Our world is busy disappearing into a snow storm,
house and barn become ships in a white sea.
A gust takes us far from where we know
we still ride the sweep of the west wind
on an anchor of inland hill.
In this moment
we taste the wildness.
The house becomes my skin,
I shrug from room to room
a chameleon slipping
one color aside for the next.
Losing track of where I started,
looking for lost notebooks
finding scraps of poems
leggy and straggling like seedlings
yearning for the sun,
I pause for a moment
to consider them
but move on, restless
as a caged cat, hungry
for wilderness and winter stars.
The calligraphy of tree shadows
across morning snow
tells old stories, new each day.
washes over us
ebb and flow
of rising temperatures
a week and a half
of false hopes
disappearing in ribbons
of snow, rippling out
in a bitter north wind.
The moon, one night from full
and a hand of clouds amid the stars
holds the night,
calling the girl I was,
standing by a frozen pond
lay a path across the snow.
My axe broke ice
and slid it out,
the moon dazzled in dark water
and the heifers moved around me
hesitant to drink the glimmer.
I watched the moon,
yearned to drop the axe
and walk the gleaming path.
Tonight, I stand
behind window glass,
feel the cold that called me then
knot my joints, and send me shivering
away from the path
still waiting on the snow.
calls from the dogwood
then the sourwood and back
wonders why I’m so late abed,
sun rising in a mist of ice
the farm a crystal bowl.
It is winter, and I eat like a bird
a small bird, say a chickadee who eats
her weight each day, fluttering in absurd
antics to get at the feeder, to beat
the jays and doves, grab a beak full and split.
She perches on a pear branch, ruffles up,
chatters about the unfairness of it,
flits back in. Watching, I fill my teacup
amble to the cracker keeper with those
ancient freshness crystals my grandmother
trusted to keep the staleness out and close
the crispness in like a hidden treasure.
With a mouthful of crumbs, I remember
my childhood. It didn’t work then, either
Yesterday, the golden crescent of an old moon
woke me, bright above the horizon
an hour before the sun,
but while I looked for it today,
thinking I should catch its gleam
just before sun up, it wasn’t there,
losing itself instead in the brightness
of February’s icy flare.
For two days now, it will ride the day
leaving the chill stars to glitter
brighter in their ways, as winter stars
are wont, and we will wait
for it to choose first dusk, then dark.
All poems copyrighted property of Kathleen M. Tenpas and used with permission
All photos property of Kathleen M. Tenpas and used with permission