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.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: First, the Winter Walking

Not everything is sharp-edged, roped with worry or

shaken by the sight of winter’s familiar greying

as it gathers a curtain of chill, soon

to dissolve in staccato of raindrops.

A wool-bound fisherman at the river knows this,

and those nodding as they clip along the river walk

and the dogs that collide with me, all glad noses and tails

before they strain toward seagulls far from sea

that traverse this other water throughway.

I can’t help but be happy. I’m stuffed with nourishment

of wing and leaf, damp and moss, the wind a soft slap

on my cheeks, a tweak of muscles and bones.

Late light crystallizes the far horizon as I go.

November flows to the south where

waterfalls release the hurrying. These hills

settle deeper into irrevocable green.

It’s a lesson that comes when we see it,

the seeping brightness inside torrents,

rich mud snugged to asphalt and cement,

minty scents of winter with smoky autumn.

I am given this balm, ancient reassurance

as the river wends its way through wood and field.

There is kind remembrance of winters that have shone,

and will shine, and this poultice of rain and platinum clouds.

And, too, a daily circling up with love despite

tribulations, which one by one will

fall to earth and water,

stone and ash beneath our feet.

All photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson 2020