Sunday, January 18, 2009

January thaw

The snowbanks are shrinking, their curves
reduced to anorexic hip-bones and elbows,
and they shouldn’t be,
not yet. The dripping sound
coming from the roof doesn’t sing
a joyful ballad for the crocuses,
but a lament for small field creatures
left homeless as their shelters
melt away.

I take advantage of the thaw
by shovelling away mounds
of wet dog dung, then by chopping wood,
bare-handed. The chopping block
is too near the bird feeder
and a chickadee scolds me raucously,
a tiny, indignant, bold-feathered sprite.
I obediently stack my wood: resinous, damp
and retreat to the house.

It is calm inside, almost vacant.
Though this is only a false spring, already
you’ve grown quiet, shifty; already
I see you shouldering towards the door.
The curtains billow their sad song
of air and dust, while the sun casts
its strange, pale winter light into the kitchen,
deep-kissing the window-prisms
as it brushes by.

Rachel Westfall
January 18, 2009


christopher said...

We have a false spring here too. But this far south it sometimes sticks. The finches who hang out with me like it plenty and my old cat prefers to leave her garage perch to do necessary things outside if it is warm enough. I notice that many of my friends also rejoice, but I worry some for the false start that some critters make each time this happens. Many pay big prices, I think.

devilsivy said...

All-pervasive restlessness transformed into poem, rearranged by breathed words and much appreciated!

jozien said...

Wonderful poem, you capture, this thaw we've got here, very well.
And I like your answers to the interview.
And now i am nervous, because i am very impulsive! :)

RachelW said...

Thanks, you three! Jozien, no pressure-- I have sent you some questions, but don't feel like you have to answer anything you don't want to.

carole said...

I especially liked this poem Rachel. Thank you. You have certainly captured some of what I've been feeling lately. It feels so unnatural and strange, this early thaw. I usually rejoice in the warm sunshine, but I haven't been able to in this false spring.

RachelW said...

Thank you, Carole! It does feel strange. I have to admit, though, that I did enjoy the weather very much yesterday. I felt a bit guilty about it, like I shouldn't be enjoying it. But it was like being on holidays somewhere where spring comes much sooner, like Vancouver or Victoria. Or like fast-forwarding to May.

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

I can smell the wet dog dung and the wood and the melting snow. I can hear the chopping and the chickadee and the dripping.

I am right there with you:)

holly said...

I agree with "Every Photo" All of the sensory details are so vivid. Also, the sounds of the words and the rhythm of this piece is so calming and full.

Julie said...

Beautiful poem, Rachel. I am drawn in instantly with the anorexic hip bones and elbows of the snow banks. You carry the beautiful imagery throughout. Those last two lines are excellent! In your interview, you talk about how children's books have influenced you. I can see that lovely, mystical light in your work. I love it!

Fat Arse said...


Saw you left us a nice compliment. Decided to visit your blog. Love your poetry. Especially love the mood you create. Am jealous of your surroundings. Originally a northern lad, I have been trapped here in the south for far too long.


RachelW said...

N, Holly, Julie, Fat Arse; thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed this. It's fun trying to capture the mood of the day; so much more fun than plain-old journalling.