Tuesday, February 15, 2011

267. The Presence of Winter in Our Lives

The wind leans into winter

That is what the children use
To measure the weight of the earth

You can feel it, I think, in Idaho,
Where winter is real and unwieldy,
Where warmth comes from the self

So it is that we are family,
From nothing more than finding
What it was we had forgotten
About those people we once held

A hand can hold all of winter
By holding in the cold and proving
The simple fact of the way the light
Changes under snow’s cloud cover
By holding cold away from the body

The heart gives out every other second.
It is in the beat of it that it stops and goes,
Pushing us forward and holding us back,
Swirling our red essence within us,
And thus keeping us warm, breathing, and
Somehow carrying forth through every winter

We each had a voice as a child, and we thought
That voice was us and who we were, an imprint
Of self on the daily creations of our bodies, but
I’m not sure I remember your voice or you mine.
The timbre has changed, and we are deeper into
Sound and making sounds, richer in the ways
Of adults, and darker than the voices of children

We are not from or of these places of winter.
We are people of a gentle hill with a view
Of a dark and cold bay so far from touch
It seemed warm and gentle. We are owners
Of lemon trees bearing their fragrant fruit
Forever. We are children of the eucalyptus,
Who live within the scent of those trees
Rising up around us in the shape of shadow

We did not ask to be human, to be given
That sense that, behind us and to the west,
Was the end of the earth, dark, blue, cold,
And continuing past the edge of sight.
We could have lived in dumb sunshine,
Filled with what food we could gather.
Ignorant of winter though familiar with cold.
We could have lived well and empty of
Thought, unable to see what we didn’t know

Patterns of snow against the snow and
The corollaries of sunlight. The few crows
Who have become kings of the mounds of snow.
Snow turned to slush turned to ice turned
Our ankles, and it is that twisting fall that
Tells us we are still alive enough to hurt
And be hurt. Leafless trees, and stark against
The grey sky beneath the grey clouds.
The way you hold yourself through the cold,
Never remembering you are not of winter

Air enters your body invisible but leaves
It white and warm and moving through
Space. We are alive because we also move,
And our thoughts have motions. Stillness
Isn’t rest but death, so we gulp goblets
Of air, wander the earth, far from our home
And mother berth, and our minds are
Moving even faster and out of the range
Of measuring, for we are searching for
The place we left behind and we know
That it may not be a place at all

In the last place
We may have none
To be or no reason
To or we might be
Forgotten or mis-
Taken or forgiven
For things we have
Not done but would
Have done if we had
Had only the breath
We’d need to make
Our words visible.

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