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Poet's Corner: In a Winter Wood with Linda Shere

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Posted on February 12, 2018 |
By Susan Jefts



The Visit

 

I think about you occasionally,

at random, and realize

with just a slight shift,

there is a refrain.

I want to sit, leaning

against the wall of your cabin

in whatever sun January can offer.

The snow has made everything simple

and stark. Wind passes through

a copse of aspens, barely sketched

against a very blue sky. The firs

are dark, and you can hear them.

I’d arrive, trackless, in the snow,

surprising you on your early waking.

We would sit together. I want to hear

about clay, shape, and glazes;

what you make with your hands.

I think how easy it is to love.

I would think too, how lonely

it is up there in that small meadow.

No more than anywhere else really

except there, you can’t pretend.

We’d sit like two pilgrims, soft and tired,

the sun sliding across us till

we fade into the cold shade.

 

— Linda Shere

 

(Linda Shere lives in Middlebury, having moved to Vermont nine years ago from New York City. She is an artist and poet, and was a poetry fellow at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson. She has taught Art, Graphic Design and Storytelling in the Media at the Community College of Vermont.)

__________________________________________

In a Winter Wood

This haunting poem by Linda Shere feels like a piece of music, like notes heard once and remembered in shades of feeling. It feels like a place I know not far from here in the mountains of Vermont, but also like places I know on distant continents. The music comes from the dark of the fir trees as much as the wind. It comes from the January snow. It comes from the refrain we are left to wonder about.

And this poem feels like a painting — of someone moving through the muted landscape of a winter wood and meadow. It is a carefully created scene with each hue deliberately chosen. At times it is like a scene from an Ingmar Bergman film, set in a cabin in the wintery landscape of Scandinavia where little has been said between characters, but much has happened. In the poem, too, little has been said, but there are feelings of love and longing and the lingering complexity of an old relationship, one that is being transformed amidst the winter landscape.

This poem also feels like a bit of a mystery with the speaker’s phantomlike and trackless “arrival” onto the snowy scene, surprising her friend upon waking. This invites us to wonder more about these two people, and this place they are so intertwined with. And just as we are settling in, the poem surprises us with yet another layer and perhaps its starkest image yet, that of “two pilgrims soft and tired” who “fade into the cold shade.”

And so we are brought back into the poem to consider more deeply the speaker’s journey and intentions. She has come seeking beauty, she has come seeking her companion, and perhaps something she hadn’t intended. We are left to wonder about the “refrain” that was mentioned early on. This is a poem one can read many times, with more riches to be found upon each reentry. But its music remains steady. And it is, for this reader at least, the music that lingers longest, well after the poem has ended.

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Please send your well-crafted, well-written poems! Poems of all styles are encouraged, and ones written from different cultural and ethnic perspectives are especially welcome. Please send them to Susan at [email protected].

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Susan Jefts is a poet and educator living in Cornwall, whose work has been published in journals throughout the country. She is currently working on a book of poetry and running workshops that use poetry as a tool for exploring life issues and directions. Her website is www.manyriverslifeguidance.com.

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