Posts Tagged ‘frost’


Think of the frost that will crack our bones eventually

            —Tom Hennen, “Love for Other Things”



Before I can love you, I hate you.

Because the frothy pink of the milkweed

and the monarch who travels thousands of miles

just to feed there. Because the dark leaves

of soybeans, millions of green hearts

per acre. Because ripe blueberries

without a hint of pucker. Because

of the touch of the man who loves me.

Because the cool breeze on my bare arms.


But to love is to open the circle

of what is beloved, to offer my attention

to the concert of crickets and crows,

to the proliferation of box elder beetles,

the weeds that infiltrate the field. Sound

of lawn mowers, jackhammers, swarm

of mosquitoes. Stench of Sulphur. Deep

snows that bury the drive.


And love says why stop there? Widen

the circle to toxic sludge. Yellow jackets.

Earwigs. Freezing sideways sleet. Men

with guns and hate in their stare. Girls

who spit disdain. And the pain

that steals sleep. And the pain

that never leaves. And the pain

that would obliterate every bright thing,


and in so doing, reveal what is most precious—

this ability to love. To love despite.

To love regardless. To love. To love

what I hate, even you, frost that will crack

my bones. Will you not be my final teacher

in how to offer my attention? Will you

not be my last great love?

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seven degrees—

even the barbed wire fence

wears diamonds

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all this glimmer

seems to have come

from nothing


sometimes it takes

the cold to make

invisible beauty visible


all day I look

into others, trying to find

the sky inside us

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I return to find the basil dead,

wilted and browned, dull limp flags.


And the cosmos, bent and spent

and dead. And the beans, dead.


And the marigolds, still brilliant,

but the forked tongues of their leaves


say they are dead. What a difference

one night of cold can make, how


no matter how warm the season has been,

it irrevocably changes things.


It doesn’t matter I knew it would happen

eventually. The petunias fall all over themselves


in profuse bloom as if to say, it’s okay,

not all is lost, but it’s enough to make a woman


decide to pay attention, to be warm

in every garden she enters.


Some blooms defy the seasons.

There’s so much beauty at stake.

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Already the frost has come,

both intricate and merciless,

and it has taken the basil,

the green beans, the zinnias

and whatever hope we had

that summer might never end.

We knew our hope was irrational,

but that’s never stopped a hope before.

Every day there’s more evidence

against hope—the headlines,

the angry boy down the street,

the child bride in Afghanistan.

And still it rises up, slightly

browned, but still shining

like that marigold bloom that was hiding

beneath a sunflower leaf—

it should be frosted and dead, but

it’s not. Damn hope. Never

acting the way we think it will.

May it trick us forever into choosing

to live another day. And after a long winter

when we’re sure it’s gone, may it always

reseed, putting up dozens of starts.

Not all of them will make it. Some will.

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Of course I forgot them, the impatiens
that I had left out on the deck. I forgot
them on the coldest night of the spring.
Sure they looked okay in the morning,
but by afternoon, they were darkened
and sullen and droopy things, dead.
How many times have I neglected
the ones that I love? How many
nights have I left them in the cold,
not for lack of love, but out of simple
absentmindedness? It is not that I didn’t
expect the cold, but I was distracted
with my own small sufferings.
Sometimes I’m sorry is not enough.
That is when I promise myself
to do better, to be more aware,
more generous, less blinded
to what’s happening all around me
in the world. But soon enough,
there’s this wound and this deadline,
this loss and this wish, and I just
don’t notice how cold it is,
the thermometer dropping,
the quiet leaves doing what leaves do.

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Not flame, not ice
not locust swarm,
not volcanic ash,

not avian flu
nor nuclear war
not by meteor crash,

oh, our world will end
my love, my friend
in days or ages hence

not by rage nor plague
nor greenhouse gas
but our indifference.

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