Frost on Barbed Wire
At first light of dawn, frost coats the rust. Ice spikes jag like the double-edged saw the woman used to cut down buckthorn near the barn that snagged the sleeves of her sweaters in every season. And she saw in that cold moment leaning toward melt, how little time she had to make the changes in her life she was called to make, how winter’s stark black and white dimmed what relief she sought in sharp edges of cut and render, to reshape her world as survival.
This morning (begin again) a tepid sun after more days than fingers pulled rolled collars up for warmth, was enough. Enough to coax the snow into mist that rose only in the woods, a magic of silver below shine that made old snow look almost new again. A promise mist to seed new clouds, maybe more snow, a dream layer as from the window an old woman thought of misses and what time is left to tickle the baby, enough to make rye bread rise and perfume the kitchen where she might serve strong coffee for her oldest missing friend.
You wave bony fingers. Claw hands jeweled with squirrel drays. You’re a witch who believes your white lace skirts and black velvet nights entice the Pleiades to wink at dawn. You leave the moon hungry. You believe this entitles you to shiver me up, seduce me into a sleep so deep I can’t shovel out.
True – your fingers hurt my bones, cold makes my eyes weep and leaves me winded. You dangle daggers from my roof. I wear a hat indoors, dig out gloves from the kitchen basket, simmer cider to perfume the house... Light beeswax and eucalyptus candles. Fry maple bacon. Add sugar to red cabbage. Play rhyme games starting with migration and hibernation that head toward divination.
Grave winter, know that at my fire, I share dark stories. How the trapper’s ghost atoned for his evil. Where first tears came from. Meanderings of the wandering grandmother. How the cabin fire became a star and a shaken feather bed the snow. The fate of the young girl made of snow. The winter goddess forced to choose her bridegroom by looking at her prospects’ feet. My tale of snowflakes that melt from the temple bell.
I feel the prick of the winter rose, fell for a beast in his garden, and now I wait – to cajole short days to stretch. For patient dawns that beg sap to run and send you back to your cave as bear rises up and moves out to make room for you to curl up. This is my faith.