Winter is the season when:

Capricorns are born
the moon washes its face in snow
train whistles are wrapped in scarves
my Scottish Terrier needs stilts
travel agents come at a premium
rabbit tracks record their escape
insulation is a must
the eaves of the house grow necklaces
the road leads to the ditch
and trolls cross the bed covers
comfortable in the house.

My Older Sister Can Harness Snow

for Shirley Ann Sidman Hogan
Shirley descends the stairs into the living room
riding in a sleigh of snowflakes and bows
from head to toe.
Her gown sparkles with the light of her smile.
Her date in his stiff tuxedo stands below,
hanging onto the newel post so as not to be
carried away in her drifts.
The front door thrown open they haul the sleigh
into the gathering winds of the night
and glide off together.

From behind the chair in the corner of the living room,
I emerge to climb the stairs—the steps
bare of any glitter now—
and walk through my bedroom to the window,
open it, and pull myself out onto the bare
limb of my tree where I linger

and then lunge toward a star
that will love me.

Still Life in Minnesota

As morning slides into afternoon,
I watch from my window
the waning moon, white
over the maroon trees,
flat against the thin blue sky
like long-ago figures
pressed on felt boards
in Bible school.

When the sun slips off
to someone else’s room,
west in the Dakotas,
fading forms
play against the walls.

Night arrives. Darkness,
my only guest,
dims the trees
and crowns my roof with stars.

Winter’s gone daft again

laughing hysterically
on the hillside,
shedding its cold
like the constriction
of winter clothes,
running naked
out the door.
The pregnant sun
is about to deliver
spring, and words
written before winter
poke through the snow,
some having rooted will flower,
some will not. As usual
the crab apple tree
like a beautiful princess
unfrozen from her last dance
blossoming once more
and I am jealous
all over again.

Iris in Spring

From green-ribbed
one petal
at a time,
iris descend
for a brief visit;
wrapped in purple
shawls and lavender
gowns with deeper
purple folds,
they form
a procession
across the lawn,
and at their throats,
they wear jeweled necklaces
of ruby laced with gold.
Now center stage,
they ravish us
with their formal colors
as if they were showy sopranos
about to hit a high “A” note
on opening night at the opera.

Suddenly, a Midwestern Spring

light green branches stir in the breeze
washes the cracked ground
Christmas wreathes—
withere on front doors
Front doors—
stand ajar
Classic cars—
emerge from under tarps
Geese, geese—
so noisy we can’t hear ourselves think
Small boys with bats—
swing, trying to puncture high cotton clouds
The pond’s face—
melts its frozen frown
Naked fish—
appear in the undressed stream
know why, know why, know why
Our spirits—
greening like the grass,
Our breath—
invisible again


Holland is a dream, Monsieur, a dream of gold
and smoke
Albert Camus, The Fall

I still see you as you rose
those mornings,
light falling gently
on your lean limbs.
We drove through tulip fields,
a patchwork of surreal orange,
yellow, green, purple, red—
a countryside better suited
to a dream.

At Christmas an amaryllis
arrives at my door.
A surprising flower—
it breaks the soil.
A shaft rising to its full height
tense with byways
of waiting—
an epiphany coming—
with all the colors
of memory,
with all the colors
of you.

Black Birds

O.K. They’re back, he says
breaking into my explanation
regarding the challenges of fundraising.
Who’s back? I ask.

Didn’t you hear that terr-eee?
The redwing blackbirds are here.
He lifts his shoulders as if showing off
a swath of red
across the top of his wings.

Funny, I didn’t hear that, I reply.
Eying the marsh outside my window
I notice now
new green is overcoming
the brown wounds of winter.

He touches my sleeve as I lean
over the sink soaping the dishes.
Should I turn to look

into the dark irises of his eyes,
let my attention take wing?

A Gardener’s Instructions Regarding Love: a Found Poem

Garden math: divide & multiple by Rhonda Hayes
Star Tribune, May 3, 2011

Who doesn’t love blooming,
The prospect of more?
Tender shoots emerge, stored
energy, divisions moist;
plenty of room for the roots.
Lift out, shake or hose off
the extra. Buds will have the most
vigor. Continue to water
until well established.

On tangled roots, use a sharp knife.
Trim or remove the dead
centers. It won’t hurt to groom
and weed while you’re at it.
(If you trim half the foliage,
It will be easier to handle.)

Take a long time to recuperate.
Donate to neighbors and friends.
Bloom again.