"Roses of Picardy," recorded by John McCormack in 1919, the favorite tune whistled by Foxrock, Ireland postman Bill Shannon, memorialized by Samuel Beckett in his memorable passage in the novel Watt, which inspired the title All Over Again of a recent performance at Trident Gallery.

"Album art" for this Tumblr post: "Birds Nest, Wyoming," photograph by Winston Swift Boyer.

On a dark, black night, love lights a lamp.
You can’t hear the voice of the One whose
love carries your
heart away.
Forests, marshes, and frightening swamps,
where one fears tigers
with every breath.
Those whose love is perfect, Bahu, cross
deserts, seas, and jungles.
Sufi poet Sultan Bahu (d. 1691), from Winter: A Spiritual Biography of the Season, edited by Gary Schmidt and Susan M. Felch (Skylight Paths Publishing: 2003), p. 169.

Persephone’s Return

Responding to the first flowers and the extending light of early March, we anticipate with joy “the things and creatures of spring, resplendent with desire and affirmation, ephemeral no doubt, but immortally reiterant.”

(Painting: Ruth Mordecai, “Dance/Landscape Series #1” 60”x40”;
Photograph: Winston Swift Boyer, “Pomegranates and Mackeral”)

Longing

Winter is a time of loss and the emblem of loss in art and myth.

Its harshness deprives us of necessities and comforts, and drives us to confront past trials and losses.

As mid-winter strains our mettle, we long for change, wish for strength, pine for restoration, crave movement, require warmth, need others, mourn what is gone, and hunger for the sustenance of a new spring.

And as we feel our loss and longing most keenly, we affirm most strongly our sustaining bonds with others, our love for those dear to us, and fellowship with all living things.

(Image: untitled, Charlie Carroll, limited edition pigment print)

Hard Evidence

The silence after snow: all night its fall
of soft stars, cog-wheels and compass roses,
its random heaping of baroque medallions

has created air pockets that muffle sound,
and I see that I don’t own this land, am only paying
the taxes for these others, my signature

on the checks as meaningful to possession as
this itinerant leaf’s scribbled autograph.  Before dog,
before me, an early coyote passed with a hint

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"Winter Birding Put Me Here, Parts 1 and 2."

Here I was doing the kind of bird survey in which you walk to the center of a flagged circle, wait a minute, then count everything you see for ten minutes.  Except in the middle of winter, I saw a lot of blackbirds, which reminds me of Wallace Stevens’s famous poem about 13 ways to look at these birds:

IX

When the blackbird flew out of sight,   
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.
The return of the blackbirds to the marsh in March signals the end of winter.  
This particular day reminded me of Stevens’s poem “Snow Man,” which begins:
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

 

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

 

Of the January sun;