A Winter’s End (poetry challenge)
For Brad, a plea…
Go back three decades to a deep-country road
lined with an overarching canopy of bare tree limbs
to find the cold season days when you were a boy.
Thick-falling snow blankets grass, gravel and sound alike;
your young heart is racing, a-burst with joy
at the sight and feel of it. Thoughts of makeshift sleds
and the whoops of friends whooshing down slopes delight.
Bypass the beckoning Hansel and Gretel turn-off,
its dark woods of sugarplum promise luring you toward
a distant year’s early morning Sunday in January, along the Inlet.
Instead, continue in the direction of your parent’s farm:
the lumbering cows, udders swaying, to be coaxed
to the warmth of the barn; the pitchfork chores you
are tasked to perform beside your father. Do them gladly.
Feel rightfully whole and secure growing to manhood
in your sometimes stern Methodist family’s embrace. Don’t,
don’t come again to this moment when, at thirty nine,
watched from her window by a lone disbelieving neighbor,
you are wading naked into fast freezing water, no stones
required as for Virginia Woolf to hold you to your resolve –
only the heavy, down-drag weight of your broken spirit
giving up on life under a bleak, hard winter sky.
© belcanto 2017