Author's Note: This is my first winter in Vermont. Snow. Freezing weather, Thaws. Icicle overhangs and the crash of them falling. I've been writing and reading the work of Vermont poets Ruth Stone and David Budbill. In January I wrote a poem daily for posting on the Tupelo Press 30/30 project. For more information, visit triciaknoll.com
The Drama of Gossip
Be silent and you’ll hear it.
Stories of neighbors’ trials,
the child who bullied another.
Plum stones spit at the feet
of the adulterer. Money laundering
or speculations on who will come clean
about where the money came from.
Street-corner stories at a bus stop,
some awash in the silt of the gutter
where a tired man stomps out his cigarette
before getting on the bus.
A great deal could be put on stage
just as it is.
After the Recluse on Judevine Mountain
People my age either retire,
count their last days, or profess
that the “r” word means death.
Some are transitioning.
Many travel. To Yosemite
before all the sequoias burn.
They send postcards from the Great Wall,
snapshots of Cinqua Terre,
share stories of brothy stews
in a room carved in a stone cave
with wood benches that scrape
slate floors. I admire maps of ambles
in Tasmania. Patagonia. Yellowstone.
Earnest poet treks on the Camino.
Bicycling the Loire Valley.
My sphere has shrunk to a game trail
near a spring. I follow rabbit tracks
in snow to see if the cottontails do stick
to one trail from my front porch
to the failed satellite dish
embedded in a buckthorn thicket.
I pretend to intercept messages
from outer space as poems,
the source of my reveal
that Santa is a woman
known to her peers as Stella.
As the ancient Chinese poets lead,
life is a simple table, cranberry juice,
and peppermint tea. A good book.
A warm hat. In the silence of a wind
that bites, I finger the gradual swell
of a rhodie bud in mid-winter.
Who am I? Hermitess?
When I asked Google
the word for a woman hermit,
it offered only names
for female pet hermit crabs:
Clawdia, Sookie, or Shelly.
I wait for the intercept.
Winter in Vermont
The flakes are not flakey. Here where trees permit
a wide view to a lead sky, fog smears the frost moon.
At a warming gesture, silver mists rise and refreeze.
Words no longer gurgle forth like a spring run,
our striped ear-flap hats mute the creek’s gargle.
We huddle in planned merrymaking and tell
fond stories about those lost since last year,
what overhangs and slides off our slanted roof.
We eat roots from the ground
gleaned weeks before the crabapples
froze into browns. This season of shrug
and bend, the clocks never seem
to tell the right time, either shivering speed
or halting dark. We miss the trowel
and thrust in pockets for gloves.
Gravel on the road splatters and grits.
Rocks seek new recognition in dimmed-down
grass. One black gelding in a blanket flashes
his feet in his snowy pasture as house lights
come on before dinner, an exception to the constraint
of cold’s taut leashes on exuberance and play.
Cooking smells hover overlong in the kitchen.
Nothing swarms. The maples hold their saps.
It’s possible to watch icicles grow.
We hunch shoulders into the wind and look down
to where our footsteps go, where they went an hour
ago and how we turned around to where we began.
© 2019 Tricia Knoll
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