The long tail of winter is tough on me, not least because I never know when it is done having its fun. And this winter has been tougher than most, one of relentless tumult in the country and the world — raised voices, uncertainty, tense encounters and waiting upon the unpredictable next thing. But mostly — a long, dark, cold, biding time.
There is one moment, however, that signals a sharp divide between winter and the more blessed seasons to come. There may be more weather in the offing, but something, unquestionably, has busted loose.
Photo: Paul VanDerWerf, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
All day warm wind withered the late fall of snow,
runoff sheeting over still frozen ground, down
a hundred runlets toward the river. A gray day
with low clouds ripping north on bluster from the south.
Yesterday sunny and cold, today cloudy and warm—
weather upside down. All night long south wind
moans, as I read by the bedstand light, sleepless, uneasy,
as if something in me knows what is about to happen.
It starts with a long, loud crack, then grinding, booming–
the whole reservoir welling up, breaking the back of the ice.
The spillway chock-a-block with jostling slabs and roaring water–
ice-out, like a hammer through a plate glass window.
Come morning, I go to see. Snowdrops by the foundation wall
forecast fairer days. The trail down the bank is a slash of mud.
Fast black water churns under a pale sun, milky in clots with slush.
A full-grown cedar hangs by its roots halfway over the dam.