The Avalanche–A Poem for January

The avalanche took our home.

A wave of ice drove us before it,
And everything we thought we had we loaded on our backs
And fled, but no luck: the cold fist ground us under.
Home. Years. Love. Work. Health.
We cried as it passed over us, scraping,
Pinned in place, locked in dim blue light:
Frozen.

The avalanche took our hope.

We lay motionless, pockets collapsing about us
Stripping away more and more, and we did nothing:
Only gazed upward, and mourned, and remembered
And night came, and all disappeared
But a smear of muted stars.

And it wasn’t until the sun returned, and murky light
Bathed us in the how and where we were
A sprout insisted beneath my hand.

I got an arm free, and reached. Scraped. Swam.
And when we emerged with our poor remnants and our lives
The white expanse was dotted with green:
Life indomitable, pressing into morning light.

Mulled Wine

It begins where the smoke hits your eyes: smouldering peat,
Mutton stew on a broad iron hook,
Deep snow. How can it ever have been summer?
Apples wrinkling and mice in the barley—
With so much to fear, thank the gods for company!
We’ll tell our tales, remember how we passed the cold
Last year, and that before. And those who couldn’t.

The grape leans across
The seasons, clasps the hand of summer’s
Dried rind, dreaming the new fruit,
Calling the sun back,
World without end amen.

                                           —Mark Green

A Winter Spell

O cold, inexorable darkness
Draw back now beyond these circling walls.
Should fear, and want, and danger walk
It shall not be, it is not here.

Let this place of warming light
Bulwark against freezing night: a promise
Holding through the day that we, come nightfall
May sleep safely, cozy, soundly in the soft
Down drift of love and food and enough.

Pass on, cold night. Howl your rages,
Pelt your icy javelins. Blot the stars and
Dance the barren trees in anger.
But come not here. Pour upon the freezing ground
Your brutal rain, but step
Not one foot within this woolen nest.

Have your time, o winter dark. But pass us by,
We creatures huddling here.

With all that has been taken
Let not more be taken.

For each calamity you measure
Slip past, mighty winter.

Have mercy.