Wending the Woods of Winter

Morning's glow arrives like a softer song, barely at first, building unto the untouchable refrain. At least some light is known for a few early hours. The usual accompaniments – the woodpecker, a west-bound train fading, the neighbor's dog left out in the cold too long.

In a dream, an old door shedding its paint slants on weathered hinges. I love the door as much as I love the idea of walking beyond its body. Hands spend time learning the country of warped wood, no longer able to fully cover the brittle bones of once-mighty oak. There is no fear of the darkness beyond, but the cool doorknob fits perfectly in my palm. So I linger.

Yet there is a kaleidoscope cloud ahead of this place and it pulses a dazzling invitation. And I can't trust it. For a week straight I have writhed between feverish fits and the stone-skinned, melancholy months strung together like some sort of seamless dying. And in those moments, that is all there is. There are no spring flowers bursting through the drab leftovers of winter's leave. There is no chorus of red winged blackbirds claiming cattails and low-hanging phone wires along the backroad. There is no dalliance in the writer's cabin deep in the forest's embrace.

Instead, there are moon shadows, and the black tears of my pen, and the unaffordable apples gleaming in an aisle filled with tasteless winter produce. One dilates in hopes that the lens will allow more light; soon I will disappear and that is the whole point, right?

There is a certain distance that a soul ignores. From my bed, I track the shadows smiling across the snow.

Every letter is hindsight. Every sentence is a bloodletting of where it was happening a moment ago. It is with this truth that I etch “x's” across the wrist with my fingernails in hopes of maybe feeling the body remaining present. Anchored. Real.

yet I wend
in the woods
of winter