Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Become a Torture to Those I'm With

I lately had a volume of poetry pressed into my hand on a rather cold winter's night. Arriving home, I propped myself up in bed under wool blankets and goose down comforter to peruse the book itself. On the cover is what appears at first glance to be a snowflake, but upon further looking is a design composed of rabbits, insects, teapots, birds and leaves. The book is Old Winter, by Anne Le Dressay who has lived at various times in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Ottawa. As is my strange habit, I always read the last poem first, and this is also the title poem. Here it is:

Old winter

The snow is tired. It has thawed
and frozen, thawed and frozen, and its edges
have become ice crystal, blank space, and dirt.

When it was fresh, it caught and held
every speck of dust, froze every wandering
bit of trash. Now it releases
one by one a winter's

The snow is broken, worn, faded grey,
pocked with dirt where the sun
has probed.

Even the new soft white
fresh from last night
cannot cover the scars, cannot disguise
how old this winter is.

- by Anne Le Dressay

Reading this poem has me thinking about winter poems in general. I think most Canadian poets end up writing at least one poem with the word 'snow' in it. I have succumbed to the winter poem business myself in Blue Feast, with "Winter is Never Tranquil." There's something terribly pleasant about reading winter poems while sipping hot chocolate or tea by the window and watching the white stuff come down. There are a number of them on the UChicago Press site, on poets.org, and there are a couple by Sylvia Plath here. Does everyone have a favorite poem or line from a poem about winter? Mine is from Rumi: "My worst habit is I get so tired of winter / I become a torture to those I'm with." Though I have to say, this year I am rather pleased with the snow and rather less of a torture than usual, which I attribute to daily outings to Terwillegar Park with ol' four legs, our black lab. Below is a picture of the beaver pond there - the whole place has a sort of Narnian quality in the snow.

If you're done thinking about winter poems, heaven forbid this early in the season, and would like to instead ponder winter movies, you might take a look at a recent post by blogger Amanda Earl.