The snow clouds make a negative
of winter trees, except for the wind’s
slight shaking and the twirl of leaves,
brown and crinkled on a distant branch.
She watches the hawks low spiral
and knows that juncos have fluffed
breast feathers against the cold.
Some mornings sorrow is kept
at bay by detail. Yesterday’s sun
shown bright, and she sat on the porch
to warm her face. A large doe stormed
the yard, stopped to look at her,
then sprinted the drive to the road.
Last night she dreamed it again
before a noise startled her from sleep.
She checked the door and heated milk
to drink. “Move in with us,” her daughter
kept saying, “ I wouldn’t live alone
so far from town in that creaking house.”
“You were born in this creaking house,”
she thought to say, but didn’t. She’s lost
the need to explain. Some nights regret
sets the dinner table, and windows reflect
places she hasn’t seen, her husband’s grave,
the child that died at birth, the girlish
blush when old dreams wake a fever.
She’s gained a faith that has little to do
with town preaching, or her daughter’s
mislead concerns. A coyote raised
a brood below the barn last spring,
and she kept it secret. Pups tumbled
in the grass to draw their mother in a fray.
As snow begins to fall, she prepares a cage
of suet for mockingbirds. Tired bones
and sleepless nights come with the package.
A person learns to love a place or hate it.
“First Snow” originally appeared in Appalachian Heritage and later included in Bill’s collection Tatters, March Street Press. Reprinted with permission of the author.
Bill Brown is the author of five collections of poems, three chapbooks and a textbook. He has been a scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Fellow at the VCCA, and a two time recipient of poetry fellowships from the Tennessee Arts Commission. The Tennessee Writers Alliance awarded Brown 2011 Writer of the Year. He has recent work in Crab Creek Review, Connecticut Review, Southern Humanities Review, Potomac Review, Dos Passos Review, Broad River Review, POEM,, Prairie Schooner, Asheville Poetry Review, Rattle, Tar River, Southern Poetry Review and Cloudbank. Bill's work was also featured in Issue #9 of Still: The Journal.