Monday, 2 February 2009

Annual Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading

An early clump of daffodils
caught by the surprise snow! (Feb. 2, 2009)

Poem for the Day

As children we were convinced
by a picture-book ideal
and a prescribed order to things
that all Christmases should be white
and that icicles should hang
from frosted roofs and frozen wires
Even though prairie grass was yellow straw
and purple pansies bloomed in baskets
and shorts were worn throughout the year.

On this small island grass stays green
because rain is the one reliable thing
and May might be as cold and wet as March
Only the predictable procession of flowers
springing from earth-buried bulbs
signals the unfolding of the seasons
But February is a chink in the wall
of a hundred days of darkness
and shadows are not as important as light.

No matter what the groundhog says
Winter will continue
its advance and retreats
not by any measured pace
but as if conducted by a general
hampered by conflicting orders
and his own uncertain temperament
Give the daffodils their marching orders.
Send enough snow to cancel school.

Even at my fairly advanced age, I'm still childishly delighted by snow!

I've never really had enough of it to become inured to its charms. Although winter is supposed to be snowy, few of my winters have been graced by this magical white stuff.

Because anything more than a dusting of snow brings temperate climates to a standstill, we huddled by the radio this morning to get the vital news: Would my children be released from the obligation of attending school? The happy answer was yes . . . and hot chocolate, pancakes and a long walk in the snow followed.

(Why is it that all children know to make snow angels, and snow balls, and sledge down hills?)

While I was lying in bed, wondering whether I should get up or not, I started sketching out this poem in my mind. I haven't written a poem in many years, and I'm not even sure if this qualifies, but I was inspired by the Fourth Annual Bloggers Poetry Reading.

Find other participants here:


Wildeve said...

What a great poem! I especially love the lines:
"Only the predictable procession of flowers
springing from earth-buried bulbs
signals the unfolding of the seasons"

and the metaphor of the generals with conflicting orders

Ah , there is nothing like a day off from school due to snow!

Bonbon said...

It's true even in our middle years we still appreciate snow and the magical silence it brings with it. Lovely poem.
I awoke this morning to sun and a heat haze. Then I read all the snow blogs and e-mails and thought I want to be there making snowmen and walking through the lanes with the crunch of snow under foot. Still only 5 more days and I can do all that in Colorado. Chica 1 sounded euphoric when I spoke to her; No school/snowball fights and hot chocolate.
Do you have any superbowl chili left to warm you?

Peggy said...

Love it! Bravo! Living in West Michigan, we get an average of 92 inches of snow a year (Lake Michigan is quite the formidable snow machine!), but this year we're already over 100 inches with another two full months of Winter to go. HOWEVER, I still love the white stuff and so enjoyed your poem. I'd say it definitely qualifies, Bee!

I especially love the phases "as if conducted by a general hampered by conflicting orders" and "shadows are not as important as light." Fabulous. :-)

Beth said...

Oh, your poem definitely qualifies! It's wonderful. (Don't wait another few years before composing another one.)
Enjoy the white stuff - get out there and make a snow angel yourself!

Brave Sir Robin said...


I loved the imagery of the colors.

How did I not know about this day?

willow said...

Wow! I love this poem, Bee. It's perfect for Ground Hog's Day, too. Puxatony Phil saw his shadow, so there will be six more weeks of winter, which is fine by me. I adore this lovely blanket of snow!

Audrey said...

I've tagged you. Come see. x

A Woman Of No Importance said...

A very lovely poem, Bee and the photo captures the contrasts of colour beautifully!

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

I've posted my contribution, too. It's so fun to see what people choose, out of the universe of potential picks.

Bee said...

Wildeve - Thanks so much for the poetry feedback! That was the first line (or thought) that occurred to me. And yes, we are having such FUN with our snow day!

Bonbon - I'm sure that many would envy you your sunny day in the southern hemisphere, but it really is fun to play in the so-rare snow here. We've got chili, minestrone and chicken noodle soup . . . so we should be okay. We may run out of milk, though, if we keep drinking the hot chocolate at the current pace.

Peggy - I can't quite imagine so much snow! I'm glad that it still has magical qualities for you. (Thanks for the nicely specific poetic feedback.)

Beth - Does it count if I took a pic of my daughter playing snow angels? I read so many great poems now; trying to write one myself was bound to be the next contagious step!

BSR - Several people posted about it (Willow, Reya and Peggy come to mind). It's not too late! Choose a favorite poem for us. (Thanks for noticing the color imagery.)

Willow - Of course I had to work in Groundhog Day!! I'm not surprised that there are going to be six more weeks of snow . . . can there ever be any other outcome in Pennsylvania, shadow or not?

Audrey - OK. Oh dear.

A woman (or great importance) - I couldn't resist that contrast of snow-covered yellow.

Meri - Oh good! I'll come and see.

A Modern Mother said...

Our crocus got their marching orders, poor things, their little purple faces gasping for air under the blanket of snow...

Elizabeth said...

Your poem was a delight
such controlled measured use of language - very natural too and with the little tilt that makes something a real poem.

June Jordan used to ask
Is it a poem?
And the answer is yes.

Claudia posted a nice photo of Bermondsey under snow.
Hooray for it!

Barrie said...

I think certain skills are genetically programmed into all children. Probably even my own (who don't see snow) know how to make snowballs (and throw them!), angels and snowmen. :) And, you are a poet!

Bee said...

A Modern Mother - This will seem very silly, but it wasn't until I read your comment that I caught the obvious meaning to my own line! I was thinking of a play on the word March-ing (as when the daffs usually emerge) and the idea of nature sending two different signals: flowers and snow. Is this what the English mean when they say "too clever by half?"

Elizabeth - Snow is definitely the theme for the day! (I will look for Claudia's picture.)

I am delighted by your comment - "tilt" seems such a good way to describe that way that words or meanings are slightly twisted to let in a bit more something.

Barrie - Yes, I think that all North American children "know" about snow - whether they have experienced it or not. That is exactly what I was trying to convey in the first stanza of my poem.

Lisa said...

I love the poem! I especially love the last two lines. It's so true. We want both the hurry of spring and the stall of a snow day.

Growing up in the midwest, we lived for snow days. As an adult in Chicago, I alternately dreaded snow days for the work they created and loved them for the break in the routine of the long, long, dark winter. Now that we live in the Southeast U.S., we don't get much snow at all and my children yearn to go back to Illinois for a "real winter."

Me? I'm still torn.

Sarah Laurence said...

Wow! Heard about the record snowfall on the news. My kids are sad to have missed it. That poem and photo are perfect to commemorate it. Well versed.

Gifted Typist said...

I heard about the snow!
London's ground to a halt.
I cannot imagine.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Seriously awesome poem and photos, Bee. Thanks for these great gifts to help us share your snowy day.

We had our own unexpected inches of fluffy white in late December. The kids LOVED it! Roads were so treacherous that we stayed at home and had some wonderful family time playing board games. Of course, that was only after snowmen were built, snowforts constructed, and snowballs thrown. Let no snow go unused is their motto.

Pete said...

I was hoping you'd post a pic of the snow! Lovely poem as well. The snow made our papers as well - a wonderful pic of the statue of Nelson Mandela holding a big fistful of snow. There's a lovely communal sense of everyone together against the weather.

Bee said...

Lisa - We've just let the children stay home for the second day. (One of their schools is closed, but the other isn't.) After various debates with ourselves, we finally ended up going with the rarity factor of snow. Little daughter is building snowmen right now with all of the neighborhood kids.

Sarah - Your comment about the kids tickled me! Everything looks absolutely beautiful covered in snow -- but the transporation network has all but shut down. (Thanks for your kind feedback about my "verse.")

Gifted Typist - I know! I was once in NYC during a deep snow and it was such fun to walk around with no traffic on the streets.

FF - Let no snow go unused! Exactly!!

Pete - There was nothing in the news yesterday except for the snow. It makes a break from the economy's woes, that's for sure. Make sure to visit Patteran Pages . . . Dick has some lovely pictures of the deep, undisturbed snow.

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

You have daffodils already? I have been waiting for them to show their sunny faces in the leisure centre nearby.

Lovely poem :-)

Reya Mellicker said...

Did you write that? WOW!

I wish I could write poetry. I can't, but I sure enjoy reading it.

I "SHOULD" be able to write poetry?


Love the daffodil/snow pics, too. What a perfect image for Candlemas!

Poetikat said...

Bee Drunken - I loved this poem! Many of the lines struck me, but in particular,
"But February is a chink in the wall
of a hundred days of darkness"
probably because I'm in the middle of a Canadian winter and really feel those 100 days.

Incidentally, at Christmas time, after a small party at my in-laws' neighbours, I was a bit tipsy and made snow angels all the way home. It was wonderful!


I would be pleased if you would visit Poetikat's Invisible Keepsakes where I have participated in this Silent event as well.

Bee said...

JAPRA - I wonder if this first wave of daffodils will survive this week of freezing temperatures. (More snow predicted!)

About the poem: I inserted the phrase "100 days of darkness" just for you!

Reya - Thank you kindly for the WOW. My husband thought me a bit crazy when I wanted to walk an extra mile to get that daffodil shot . . . but I had to have it!

I keep thinking of these lines of Eliot's: Winter kept us warm,covering Earth in forgetful snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers.

Poetikat - How charming to think of you tipsily making snow angels!

I will definitely pay you a visit.

CashmereLibrarian said...

Thank you for the beautiful poem--and the daffodils.
We awoke this morning to MORE snow--not that I mind snow so much but the temperature had also dropped to a miserable 2 degrees (-9 wind chill).
I'm glad you and your family are enjoying your amazing snowfall, though! It's been fun to read the English blogs and see snow through less jaded eyes.

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Bee, I did wonder if the "100 days" was a common expression around here. The expat consultant at Roxi's school first warned me about the "dreaded 100 days of darkness". She wasn't kidding.

Don't you love how it's staying light until almost 6pm? I am thrilled. I know Spring is near.

PS I'm making a vat of chili today for the teacher's luncheon at school tomorrow. If I have time, I'll make some jalepeno cornbread too. Thinking of you!

Bee said...

The light! YES!! There was a beautiful lavendar light in the sky this morning. I wish that I could share some of that chili and cornbread with you today . . .

Fantastic Forrest said...

JaPRA and Bee - you have solved my dilemma about what to make for dinner tonight. And I'm not even a Texan. Wish I could see that lavender sky. Ours is nicely pink this morning, though, so I won't complain.