In Winter -
a flute, played on the edge
of a snow-covered marsh,
will be heard forever.
The red haired boy
who pushed his breath
though a silver reed, letting his talent
spill in the brilliant night,
will move back to the city come spring.
The man who carved ravens
onto a silver ring for you, will die
in a cabin fire across the lake.
The old storykeeper will lie down
in a snowbank one night
on his way home from the pub.
Arms wide, face to the northern lights,
he'll be found that way in the morning.
In that kind of cold your eyebrows turn white
and you think about the tiny hairs
in your lungs, or you think about the boy
in just his socks and plaid felt shirt
making magic on the ice. How he
loosed his clear tones across the frozen bracken,
how they flickered in the moonlight like white feathers
on the belly of a high arctic loon.
This eloquent piece uses the season to its best. At the same time, it also employs an effective contrast in colors: snow-covered marsh against red-haired boy, ravens against silver ring and cabin fire against winter lake. The imagery throughout is melancholy and powerful -- as if each vision is there to haunt the reader into coming to terms with the harsh season, mainly death.
"In Winter" begins on an almost fanciful image, adds sound and poignancy all in the first few lines; the energy, sweep and speed does not diminish and the reader is rushed through the poet’s landscape of references; I felt like a time traveler looking somewhat mournfully through the cabin window of my time machine. The excursion ends with a comforting and reassuring image, unexpected and yet natural to the poem.