Bitter

Bitter the wind tonight,
combing the sea’s hair white:
from the North, no need to fear
the proud sea-coursing warrior.

~from the Irish, translated by John Montague

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Earlier this month, a double rainbow arced across the blue sky. For a day or two, it was spring.

Now, as I write, a rough wind gusts snow horizontally across the yard. The dog and I ventured out for a walk, but fled inside after ten minutes. My eyebrows had gone numb. On top of the hill, I found a bird’s nest blown loose by the blast. Overhead, the clouds race, dizzyingly fast. The wind is so chaotic that I can pin my eye to a single flake, watch it dance up, around, down, back up again.

The cold is bitter. Driven down upon us by the polar vortex, it burns, white and severe. The ground is iron-hard, the impenetrable hide of a sleeping ice-dragon. The birds have polished off the last of the sunflower seeds. I found a bag of cornmeal and dumped it in the feeder. It is a perilous day for feathered things.

This reminds me (because I have been spending a good deal of time lately in the company of Emily Dickinson) that hope is one of those feathered things. Days like this are hard on hope, too. The sere blast of frozen air threatens to buffet it away like the small bird-personage who just pecked bravely at the cornmeal and then, in taking flight, was blown in a wide arc out of the yard.

Find warmth where you can today, and offer it. Put something out for the bird-people. Kindle hope as you are able.

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