Poem: Winter Song

I’ve been thinking about the concept of wildness in the context of winter, and the idea of delirium seemed worth exploring to me. I had the skating episode of Wordsworth’s Prelude (Book I ll. 452-489) in mind, and especially the passage that begins with the wonderful line, “When we had given our bodies to the wind” (479).

Winter Song

Now, in the delirium of winter
I eat my breath
Warm and dribbling down thick scarves

And sip at wind
So thick it lies water-heavy in my mouth.

Meanwhile my vision, distracted,
Has lost the boundaries of sun, ice, snow,

All of them covered in wind
That drags them into each other.

But behind the wind
The cold slips in

Soft like snow,
Clearing out the heat
In brain and body.

The world is perfected –
Snowbanks sheared to stiff edges,
The blue lines of their shadows neat beside them,
The sunrise growing on trees,
The air;

And as the wind breaks on my cheekbones
I am sharpened to a blade
Against ice.