Three Poems by Clyde Kessler

Cold Spell

Half of January is gone, and the sky freezes
to the ridge, my town freezes to something else
beyond the horizon, and maybe it’s all a ratty quilt
soaking up smoke with nobody much to know,
nobody much to tell it to. I tease you with words
scratched into window frost. You watch the letters
refreeze, like bird wings, and broken latches,
thieves with no keys so we hold the doors open,
and the whole winter sashays into the kitchen,
to take everything. But that’s not real for you.
That’s not what you read about folks who starve
where somebody else leans on a wall like icicles
and says the food’s real gone, and hunger isn’t
a play pretty doled out all over onto God. 

Winter Solstice at Pandapas Pond

Siskins skitter through the alders
along Pandapas Pond. They drink
from a scrape on the shore. Sleet
bounces on dry oak leaves, sounds
a little like voices and wings.

I am hiking around the pond.
I pretend I am lost, checking
the weather by checking my pulse.
My old heart still works, I say
to the ridge trail, and laurel scrub.

Sunset owns what it hides
behind thick clouds. The sleet
has already melted. Two siskins
are still pecking alder cones.
Their voices migrate into hidden stars.

Father in Winter

I am dreaming my father folding
starlight like a pale quilt around a tree.
It slants a branch’s apples to the ground.
Hands out of the air are rubbing bruises
and bug-holes off the apple skins.

A jacket settles as if it’s threaded to snow
before the snow falls, before the forecast
turns into a child to wear it, hand-me-downs
knotted into its whispers, winter pressing
itself against my face, telling me I’m a child
nearing this last place where my father dreams.

Clyde Kessler has poems in Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Slipstream, Rogue Agent, and Spinoza Blue. In 2017, Cedar Creek published Fiddling At Midnight's Farmhouse, a book of poems that Kendall Kessler illustrated. 

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