Sacraments of the Snow

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So small is each worker,
yet so united in communion,
that they cloud my view
of what their force builds.
It’s their lot in my back lot
to shape a scape as placid as
a pearl’s face, with whom
even selfish moon feels compelled
to wed it’s center-stage light
in the blackest February night.

But this congregational effort
to absolve the dark transgressions
and from chill gray winter
will only stand as a tent village,
a home temporary as a sinner’s promise,
for these crystallized raindrops
set to ascend back north
when the river ice cries out
and floats south to the sea.

On this Sunday, the frozen souls
will whisper prayerfully
from matins to vespers
in vestments so chaste,
as the soles of sinful men
sully this pristine place of worship,
this mausoleum where they await
the rapture of equinox crawling
beneath the southeastern horizon
toward earth’s resurrection.

Cabin Fever and T ‘ai Chi Ch’uan

It’s not that I wish
my creaky old bones
could still maneuver
a shovel full of snow
like a martial arts master
slicing the chrysanthemum air
with fancy sword or spear.
I’d be quite content never
again to clear pathways of
the imperialist white interloper
overtaking my home.

But the spray of snow
from the spout of a blower
carving egress from
my fevered cabin
sometimes entrances me
like watching the flowing silk
streaming from the ends
of those blades swung in
harmonious soft and hard
by Righteous and
Harmonious Fists.

I’ve believe I’ve been
cooped up here too long.

December Morning

Deer bracing for another blizzard

Deer bracing for another blizzard (Photo credit: Garen M.)

It’s so cold you can feel the fabric of your pants stiffen around your legs when you tip-toe-slide on the ice from the front door to your car. It sits there shivering and panting steamy like an exhausted asthmatic who’s just finished a 400-meter dash on this below-zero morning.

You grunt your manly huff, grasp the door handle and break the grip of new ice that wants to lock you out of both your house and your ride, while your keys sway and sweat condensation in the ignition. With two cracks–of door and spine–you stiffly fold into the seat, trying not to sigh a blindfold spot onto the windshield at the thought of struggling through another upstate winter, braving the cold drive from one warm place to another for three months.

At the end of the road, while you wait to turn onto the slick roadway, you notice how different the roots look across the way in the sun-dappled sugar bush down by the stream. That’s when you notice three of the maples’ bases turn and stare at you, stand on spindly legs to bound across the road from their snow beds, and wave white mittens on their way deeper into the long, frozen shadows, where everywhere is cold to cold with freezing in-between.

For a second you feel a rush of heat upon your cheeks, a shiver up and down your spine. You adjust the defroster and lose your train of thought as a fourth deer joins her comrades in a different kind of morning commute. With a shrug, you hear the radio voice warn of six more inches tomorrow and figure it could always be worse.

Snowflakes on My Tongue

Snowflakes on my tongue

Snowflakes on my tongue (Photo credit: giraffe_756)

I fear this winter may have ended
and I never consciously captured
on my tongue the essence of its fruit,
the falling snow. Oh, I caught several
windblown facefuls of snowblower mush,
but they taste of two-stroke engine exhaust
and anger. Pure snow, the glistening,
diaphonous jewels that have yet become
a ground-bound part of the landscape
such as I, taste like perfect nothing.

They’re as blank of flavor as they’re
empty of color, their nothingness melting
to shapeless memory in your mouth.
Maybe snow tastes like poetry, though.
Each poem a one-of-a-kind piece
of icy flotsam floating from cloudy thought;
each frozen notion full of facets and edges
only visible by our intimate inspection.
We catch them upon our tongues, they melt
and become part of us in that moment.

Snow Angels

Snow Angel

Snow Angel (Photo credit: dalechumbley)

The nightmares began in the week before Christmas;
screaming, fearsome trespass into the child’s mind.
The news had infringed with no conscience
and stolen a bit of innocence from the six year old,
waking her from a terror others could not escape.
“I don’t want Santa to come into our house,”
she said one night. “it scares me.”
“You’ll be safe, hon,” her father whispered.

“Mommy and Daddy will protect you,”
her mother said. “And your Guardian Angel, too.”
“Why didn’t their Guardian Angels
protect them?” she asked,
in the direct distillation of thought
only a child can accomplish.
Her father closed his eyes and drew a breath
before telling her.

“Because so many little kids
and their Mommies and Daddies
fear this world more than we used to,
God needed more brave little angels
to help them feel protected.”
As snow fell outside the bedroom window,
the little one lay down with her mother,
satisfied for a bit, sleeping safely in her arms.

Her dad thanked God for her and that
she heard not the door open and close twice.
When she awoke in the morning,
little Emma called into the kitchen,
“Daddy come see, come see.”
There in the new-fallen snow, a score
of snow angels had ringed their blessings
upon a home and a little girl.

I’m sorry if this doesn’t really sound like a poem. I’ve been struggling with these feelings all weekend and I have difficulty expressing such things sometimes except by “writing them out.”  Some folks say I’m some kind of storyteller, but I often lack the emotional capacity to couch thoughts of such horrible things as the Newtown tragedy in words. This piece has helped me gather a few in one place. May all our angels rest in the peace of this season, and all to come.

Seasoning

frozen sunrise

frozen sunrise (Photo credit: Grapfinger)

I awoke this morning,
peeked through the curtains
and saw this house had gotten old
overnight,
its roof gone all salt and pepper,
it’s boards creaking with the cold,
and its chimney steaming some miasma
I’m sure it didn’t yesterday.

The neighborhood’s shoulders wore
some of the fallen silver
and flakes of white, and
the whole tableaux seemed
shrouded in slate-gray clouds
cast in a penumbra
so dark I couldn’t read
that big E from only a few paces.

But then you opened your eyes,
the lids parting a passageway
for a sweet light to escape
the shadows of age, and I saw
in them the reflection of this house,
its roof black and smooth again,
its walls strong and whose windows
I now cast open to call Good Morning.

© Joseph Hesch 2012

The roof really WAS covered in a salt & pepper-like snow this morning. (Unfortunately, no time to take a photo.) My age-obsessed imagination took it from there. 🙂:)