The sky looks hard

Like hammered metal,

And the wind sounds tired

Looking for a place to rest.

storm 1
Winter storm in Portland

In a tangle of memory and dream,

Like leaves and cobwebs at the door,

I’m trying to catch my breath;

I’ve been here before.

Where to go, what to do

When sudden rain comes down strong;

Smudge of clouds rolls dark and gray;

Night was never so long.

storm 2
Rain clouds over Portland

I don’t want to see where I’ve been –

Dark places and faces estranged;

With just the blink of an eye,

What’s at rest is changed.

I am in a faraway mood

Under a night sky spell;

Moonlight has vanished into fog –

For what high cause, who can foretell?

storm 3
Moonlight behind clouds

Like a rose bush old and wild,

Untrimmed and out of control,

Memories reach high and wide;

The prickles are not subtle.

The past doesn’t give straight answers

To straight questions asked of it;

Challenges our right to inquire

Something particular and private.

The past is an artful dodger,

A rascal that wheedles its way in;

I can’t stay angry and disapproving

When it departs with glee and a grin.

But tonight, my thoughts are endlessly sad

And bitter towards the villain;

My independence is shattered,

Tangled in webs of the unforgiven.

I doubt the magic and mystery I am made of –

I feel only the dark and grotesque;

My endless interrogations of the past

Are quintessentially Kafkaesque.

Resolute, firm, and sure of itself,

My past has stood for 61 years;

It holds the hands of my dearly departed,

And the sorrow of my tears.

No one lives forever;

Each beloved face changes –

Even the longest river

Winds and rearranges.

river c
Winter on the Columbia River

Familiar prayers unfold

Like a fetish bundle dressing;

Standing with the lost and the bereft,

Shadows know sad blessing.

Getting close to truth can hurt,

And I can live with that;

Not getting close is a lonelier hurt –

I don’t think I’d want to live like that.

I look for meaning in restless wanderings –

I know that beauty and undying grace are all around;

Spirit connects the notes of a tune,

The silence in between the sound.

When Spirit said they were leaving me,

When She said they had to go,

I knew She meant not my memories and dreams –

But the hurt, the loneliness, the cold.

Once upon a time there was what there was,

And if nothing had happened there’d be nothing to tell;[i]

Dreams want to be real and stories told –

Just ask the tenant at Wildfell.[ii]

Perhaps tomorrow morning

When I awake with the sun,

Sadness will be tinged with something sweeter,

And bitterness will be on the run.

forest 1
Sunlight in the forest

I just haven’t been impressed lately

With life outside the forest;  

I like the conspiracy of winter trees,

Who whisper like ghosts in chorus.

forest 2
Forest in winter
forest 3
Whispers of old trees

I am in a faraway mood

Under a night sky spell;

But look, moonlight and a scattered sweep of stars

Finally, silently reveal themselves.

moon 1
Wolf Moon over Summerplace Woods

Oh, Moon, if only I knew, like you

To wane when I must,

To return strong and robust,

I could practice stability, reliability, and trust.

[i] Charles de Lint, Dreams Underfoot

[ii] Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall 

Composed as February 1 turned to February 2, 2019 – during a winter night that crafted a heavier mood and darker tone to my thoughts. Winter has a profound effect on me, making me more somber and introspective in general, providing moments of redemption, forgiveness, understanding, and beauty.