In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I am working on book #3 in the Winds of Freedom series, a teen adventure series set in the 1850s in North Danville, Vermont. My 1852 Vermont adventure THIS ARDENT FLAME is scheduled for June 2021 publication with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you updates and early order information as soon as I know! I'm also writing a memoir; revising a mystery; in the midst of a novel about a grandmother and her granddaughter; and always writing poems. Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Because Shadows Are Part of Life

It's been eight and a half months since my husband (= soulmate) died, and every day brings new ways to feel and learn. One important lesson has been to grasp the difference between grief -- which is a reaction to the loss itself -- and mourning, which has more to do with learning to live with an absence.

Recently a friend and I were discussing the Book of Job, a part of the scriptures (or haftorah in Jewish tradition) that can make people very uncomfortable, because the main speaker in it, Job, has an argument with G-d that seems to leave him at a terrible disadvantage, without any just cause for it. This poem reflects on that ... and takes its title, "The Storehouses of Snow," from the ancient text. And, PS, the photo is from a earlier winter; our snow is not that deep at the moment, but check back with my photos on Facebook when Friday's storm is done!

The Storehouses of Snow

First winter alone in the house on the ridge, where
mornings open gray and silver — when I follow the tracks

(deer, fox, squirrel, a flock of turkeys) and search the trees
there’s more blue sky than I first realized, flaming and yearning

oh how long, how deep does love root itself in the heart
—it aches to touch, to clutch the answers. But:

There’s a thing about blue sky. Sometimes I don’t realize
til the moment I lift the camera to the bare branches above,

backdrop of tenderness with sparkles; silken, with cloud streaks
look! without calling, two bluejays erupt and take wing.

Paired, they do not leave this place in winter. Nor do I.

Empty rooms echo, while the kettle hums, yes
the kitchen’s almost a safety zone, a place to make and taste

and the stacked dishes waiting to be washed proclaim
“life is messy; choose life; go on, try it, try it, try it”

wet-handed (soaped) I dry it. The dish. My cheek. Salt wet.

Beware the living-room couch, with its loose comfort
blowsy, ample, cushioned. Take a corner seat. Did you

bring a book? This program with the sound muted now
was one he liked. We had a little race to be the first to say

“re-run!” and be correct. Sometimes people die and it’s not
something you can prevent. Love can’t hold it back, although

my niece is worried that I seem sad. When she called, I was sitting
by a window as the evening ripened: snow in the forecast.

Shadows on snow are blue but sometimes purple; some pink
in surprising places. The storehouses of snow must be designed

like the bold striped houses of the Gaspé, blooming plum and orange
above winter’s etched certainties. Imagine the winter breath of G-d

throat cleared with a rattling cough, pillars of ice rising.

Grief is a clawed animal known to prehistoric souls
digging like a sabre-toothed cat or dire wolf

tearing the flesh; opening the chest; releasing the arc of bones
determined to delve to the heart. Wrenching apart fiber

piercing each wanton cell with chemical injections of pain
erupting in coarse sobs, in wracked wailing, in screams. And then:

nights alone. Salt rivers. Oceans of separation.

How strange the new sun of mourning; fire from the lens
as light flares from a disk of ice. Words that set sparks

paper smoking within a golden circle. Fingers that curve
around a mug of comfort. Yet not so fast! Rage, rage first,

rage against the jaws of death, against hunger and want, against
half-empty bed, against table for one. Rage, I say! G-d shouts.

Raw throat, scrubbed face, tumble of blame and rough words.

The saw blade rasps in the ash branch; scrapes past bark, wrestles
fiber and core, pinches under the arched arm. Prunes back rash hope

assaults the life force, demands a rush of sap from the roots
swelling, rising, dripping (sweet not salt) down the gray bark.

Let the storehouses of snow be opened. Blow, winter rages. Blow
and rant and make the mountains kneel. Remind me how fierce

is love itself; how clawed; how it bites until the lips intervene
the tongue turns loose and hands grasp. How the calendar

numbers the days of the season. Insists (shouting, roaring)
on April. On yellow, gold, and green. Which are not (except at sunrise)

present in the shadows on the snow.

-- BK