When Ice on the River is Shot with Blue…

The advent of winter is here, and like so many others, I’m turning inward. To lick wounds. To tend to the things I can manage. To imagine a time when my heart will fill up again. To eke out what I can on the page, no matter the off kilter scrawl:

When ice on the river is shot with blue

Do not leave your empty heart

on the table overnight.

Pour in sawdust, stove ash, cobwebs, dirt –

anything that helps you sleep quietly.

When an unknown force binds imagination

and your hope thrashes wings against a cage –

wait. Break kindling against your knee.

Tend to the things you can manage.

After midnight, whisper yourself outside;

heave the pump until water flows.

Before you can mourn the passing clouds

The wavering moon’s in your bucket.

Unburden yourself to the crows inside

so they roost easy among your ribs.

Their dreams of persimmons and the wind

will heal you if you let them.

When the old wolf shadow nips your cheek,

cover your face with the feathered mask.

Shriek down your own wasting sickness

using lung, wing, heel, fire and fist.

Sort your seeds while the earth is thawing

and listen for those who lie sleeping below.

Clear last year’s bracken from around your heart.

Chop and carry until the sweet sap flows.

Go quickly under the next new moon;

to take an ember from the blacksmith’s forge.

Steal home along the fenceline, and don’t forget –

any light serves, even if it’s not your own.

Pull on your boots and mend the plow;

allow the nettles to absorb your tears.

Carry wax-filled hives from the hay-strewn barn

to the crumpled meadow where the dead fawn lies.

At sunrise, do not speak, just work;

feed embers of hope on wild ginger and thorns.

Each seed knows its moment, after all –

somehow you must know yours.

Form a wheel from willow boughs

to link your thoughts to earth and air.

Chase the wheel across the field;

and kneel where it falls – dig, dig.

Plant your silence, your pains, your plans

along with the feverfew, yarrow and sage.

Whistle to the wind to tell the rain

to soak the fawn, the crows, the thorns, the field.

Now fill yourself with mugwort and wine.

Tend the fire and mend your shirts.

feed the sparrows, the towhees, the waxwings…the crows

and beckon your heart back home.