Friday’s Poem: Breathing the Breath of Winter

(Photo by Cynthia Guenther Richardson 2021)

The breath of winter is flung upon all

and the walk is scented with promise of frost that

may visit or transmute, warmed, into rain.

I am hoping for rain but planning for frost,

even ice, prepared for what comes.

Or I want to think so. I grew up in a land

of dense, deep snow; even birds and branches

were bitten by its ache, shaken by zero dregrees.

The beauty held me. I thought I was lucky.

Being alive was spectacular,

eyes watering, cheeks crisped, mouth puffing breaths

that floated, friendly clouds, in air that stung.

Today I am not afraid of much at all,

knowing I have lived through things like

water pipes freezing, the fire going out

so burning furniture to keep us warm,

cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner,

being thought a nuisance or failure

so later harmed and forgotten.

Suffering threaded through my passion for living.

Now I suffer with those who have shared such troubles,

and those who know danger and brilliance of snow,

the wonder of slow warmth after sheen of ice.

It is not easy learning to navigate

the wind’s vagaries.

But today I am lucky, still. I know where

I am going, to the broad river and home.

And this wind may carry a long, low moan

but it releases a ribbon of song in between–

and that is what I listen for, and that is what I hear.