"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Winter Grave

The winds of November remind us to hurry—
plug the drafts under the door
store the squash
and wait for winter.
Will there be food? Heat?
Will the water drag or flow?
Will we be dependent upon the slug?
The stealthy bow?
If there's a death in winter
what do we do with the body?
Should we predig a hole like we do
for our live Christmas trees
so they can live on?

The cattle huddle
around a full hay wagon,
backs to the wind.
Will there be shelter from the storm?
Will the river flow unencumbered
around fallen timber and jagged floes?

The barn is warm at night with their breath.
The clover is sweet and the loft full.
They chew their cuds
content
and warm.
What will we do with the body?

3 comments:

Liza said...

This is how winter creeps in...with questions and concerns, an edge of worry that doesn't leave until spring.

SAMUEL PARK said...

I enjoyed this poem, as it made me think about how different seasons (and time itself) affect our relationship to our work. I for one write a lot because I have a sense of my own mortality, my own time on Earth slipping away. I'm still in my 30s, but if I live to be 90, 60 years doesn't feel like enough time to write all I want to write.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Liza,
Yes, an edge of worry that doesn't leave until spring. That pretty much sums this one up. Thanks!

Samuel,
I do that too! And I think about John Updyke writing about the writer in winter, as he got older. There is so much to write in this short time on Earth, but as Updyke noted, "early success and burnout are a dismally familiar American pattern.".