Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow and Solitude


I'm sipping morning coffee, seeing the snow that covers my garden and the neighboring field. The hush of snow, its thick insulation. It bursts my heart with memories of every other snow I weave through in my mind, back to my childhood in Toronto where an enormous blue spruce, though thirty feet high caught it all and became a part of the white. I have an enormous green spruce now, just as tall, outside my living-room window. It, too, catches and holds the weight of it all. I think of the year I lived alone in a cabin in Sequim, Washington, and the week I was snowed in with just my soup and coffee and the poems there were to write then. So many poems. So much solitude I had to hold in my mind, so much it felt I might break under its weight. But then once the week was over, I wanted it to begin again, so comfortable had I become with the world's silences.

Sometimes a heron walked the stony shore in front of my cabin, its gray a part of the sky's gray. Its slow steps on fragile legs were a reflection of my own internal steps around the details of my rocky life so far. I sat at a small table, the kind they had in diners in the fifties, with the stainless steel rim around a formica-like top and stared at the bay. Bald eagles sometimes stood in the trees, appearing tall as men. I stood inside my self, looking over my story, sometimes diving down to seize some memory and re-invent it on a page. I listened to Bach's Cello solos again and again. Yo-Yo Ma's stroke of the bow across the strings was the perfect soundtrack to the snow, and to my aloneness in the poems where I brought figures from my life back to me, tracing their outlines in words that slowly moved into metaphors that surprised me for what they revealed. I wrote virtually non-stop. I had nothing else to do, no one to talk to. The world of poems were a wonderland that opened wider every time I thought some life into the alphabet and followed it. I learned that love has so many sides to it that it was possible to write more than twenty or thirty poems about one person and with each one come to know them and what they meant to me better. I learned that when writing, I become a part of a things in ways I'd missed out on when they were surrounding me. I name them. I give them the attention they deserved. There, alone in my small cabin (barely the size of my bedroom now but still having everything I needed) I sat surrounded by the ghosts that live inside the snow, the memories of a life only yet partly lived, discovering it was enough to write about forever.

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