Wednesday, January 7, 2015

to walk in the cold

New Year’s Day

By Kim Addonizio

The rain this morning falls
on the last of the snow

and will wash it away. I can smell
the grass again, and the torn leaves

being eased down into the mud.
The few loves I’ve been allowed

to keep are still sleeping
on the West Coast. Here in Virginia

I walk across the fields with only
a few young cows for company.

Big-boned and shy,
they are like girls I remember

from junior high, who never
spoke, who kept their heads

lowered and their arms crossed against
their new breasts. Those girls

are nearly forty now. Like me,
they must sometimes stand

at a window late at night, looking out
on a silent backyard, at one

rusting lawn chair and the sheer walls
of other people’s houses.

They must lie down some afternoons
and cry hard for whoever used

to make them happiest,
and wonder how their lives

have carried them
this far without ever once

explaining anything. I don’t know
why I’m walking out here

with my coat darkening
and my boots sinking in, coming up

with a mild sucking sound
I like to hear. I don’t care

where those girls are now.
Whatever they’ve made of it

they can have. Today I want
to resolve nothing.

I only want to walk
a little longer in the cold

blessing of the rain,
and lift my face to it.

What an incredible poem, yes? So many vivid moments. The descriptions of smells, walking with boots sinking in, the big boned shy girls at the window. How life carries you so far without explaining a damned thing. That ending:

...Today I want
to resolve nothing.

I only want to walk
a little longer in the cold

blessing of the rain,
and lift my face to it.

It's been good these last few days to walk in the (rather extreme) cold. To feel it as a blessing. To walk without resolve. To just walk. Without trying to figure anything out or to plan ahead.

The way snow accumulates on things, I'm feeling that as a blessing, too. The way life accumulates in big tufts, abundant and self-evident and lets you look at it for a bit before blowing away or melting. There are moments when it feels like it's all there in front of you, but then it will recede, escape from you again. Where you have been, what you have been, all the flaws and mistakes and the good solid parts, too. With some luck you will be able to keep a couple of loves through it all, which will be an anchor. Wherever they happen to be. And some days this will seem a miracle, that you have them at all. 

And lastly, a poem that must be read every winter:


by Frederick Seidel

Snow is what it does.
It falls and it stays and it goes.
It melts and it is here somewhere.
We all will get there.


  1. Oh, good for you for getting out to walk in the extreme cold. My daughter was home sick today so we spent the day in our jammies thus effectively avoiding going outside in below zero weather. I wish we had more snow this year. Your words about snow and the poems struck me with yearning for more snow!

    1. Definitely dressing in lots of layers :) It snowed again here overnight. It IS beautiful - but so cold :)

  2. I was just saying to a friend today how much I love winter since living in Quebec City. It snowed today (lots of it) and it's just absolutely magical outside tonight. Thanks for sharing these beautiful poems and your gorgeous photos. Oh, ya, and Happy New Year to you, Shawna! May your 2015 be filled with much love and happiness and good health for you and your family! XX

    1. Stay warm! Thank you Lynn! Wishing you all the good things this coming year. xo


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