Letter to Emily Dickinson On What She Taught Me About Winter

Dear Emily,

All is ice in my birdbath. Sleet is crystal on the twig, on the wings of juncoes. Morning light brought cold to my cup. Air like swallowing coal.. Now winter’s wasted sun sets behind the hill beyond the creek. I cannot remark that certain slant to this light. You’ve made that redundant. Light sashes weave through the bare trees, frozen armored slashes of gold on black.

The ice turns blacker as the must-go sun dims. The dog’s run on a cracking ice patch rings cackle bells for the dead who have not found their way out of these woods. If the dead all rose, I wonder who would sell them bus tickets or fix the elevators.

I am somebody here today. A witness. Today’s frogs are deformed, absent in the admiring bog. The bells roll out mechanical songs. We scuff our heels on sidewalk and ask after spring. The postmen stay home. Messages are written in the hope of drips.

The birds found their way to cover, the millet under a coat of ice. The dead hide in boles of trees, a doorway the night latches up.

I saw two blue lights hovering in the chill last night. They might have been dying eyes. Or a reflection of a blue that the sky wants to be. The dog barked. I moved aside the curtain, and they moved too.

I tiptoe into the room of flowered carpets, oranges, scarlets and teal against a sky-black. Out the window, icicles lengthen like uncombed hair, in twists. My cup is filled with cinnamon and apple scent. This is the draught which tames the draft from the doorsill, I tilt my head to the crisping of fire, wood snackling for heat. My only light is the gold street lamp. The hovering blues vanished. To where, I do not know.

Tricia Knoll

About Tricia Knoll

I'm a Portland, Oregon poet -- often calling myself an eco-poet because of my passion for the relationships between human and natural systems. My poetry has appeared in over 100 journals. My chapbook Urban Wild is now out from Finishing Line Press. 
See triciaknoll.com for more information.
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