Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Winter's Tale


A Winter Evening Near Newport,
William Trost Richards,
oil on panel,
ca. 1895-1900.

Winter makes me feel alone.

This week a member of our extended family died.

Almost a stranger to me, but deeply grieved by those who loved her.

And so we begin the rituals of sorrow and respect.

Dusk gilds the western rim with pale gold.

A bowl in which tears shatter in a thousand crystal shards.

And for all the spectral beauty of a winter night, for me the harlequin shapes and shadows that stir and sweep across the winter landscape are truly ghosts.

For the restless snowdrifts whisper names.

I have lost Dear Ones in the winter seasons.

Dawn will edge the frost ferns that form and fan across my sunroom windows with pale distant fire.

Cold dying fire of the year's death.

I have made winter guilty by association. A metaphor for memory. An acronym for loss.

Winter makes me feel alone.


36 comments:

Vesper said...

Pure poetry, Bernita. I am sorry that it had to flow from real loss.
I lost my beloved grandmother on a December 6th, twenty-one years ago. Winter has never held the same joy for me, and certainly not Saint Nicholas, who, that year, did not bear gifts but instead took one away...

Bernita said...

Thank you, Vesper. You understand.
That was the same date my mother died.
I can isolate Christmas in a bubble of warmth, but not the rest of winter, for I am chilled inside as well as out.

Carla said...

Beautiful, poetic descriptions. I am sorry for your loss.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Carla.
No condolences are expected or required though.

Demon Hunter said...

I loved the way you described how you feel about winter. Beautiful, elegant, descriptions. I too, am sorry for your loss...

Jaye Wells said...

The real kicker is that no matter the season, a great loss makes everything remind you of death. And each time someone--even a distant acquaintance--dies, you're forced to relive that original pain. I'm sorry the winter is so harsh on your soul.

Ric said...

Beautiful, my dear.

The winds of winter chill the bones, the sting of sorrow chill the soul.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Dear Demon.
Everyone suffers losses that scar the heart.
I ache for the girl whose mother died Monday.

The winter is harsh on my soul... an apt and sensitive comment, Jaye. That does describe it well. Thank you.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Ric, my dear friend, for those lovely lines.

Kate Thornton said...

Bernita -

I grieve with you.
The winter is a cold and lonely place indeed, and the winter of the heart is even darker. Here's to a quick and glorious spring, full of hope and promise and new life.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Kate.

I can endure the dread of repetitions and reminders with that hope.

Julie said...

The frost ferns are beautiful.

My Grandmother also died on Dec 6th - her birthday; my mother died today fifteen years ago and my father died on Christmas Day 2000 during a family reunion. Thankyou for sharing this; it is meaningful to look back on spirals of grief that (in this case) have healed.

Stephen Parrish said...

Hi Bernita. Your writing is, as Vesper said, pure poetry. Wow.

raine said...

Sympathies for the family of the one who was lost.
Our feeling about winter seems much the same, Bernita.
But if it inspires this kind of beautiful expression from you, there's something to be said for it.
Dawn will edge the frost ferns that form and fan across my sunroom windows with pale distant fire.
Sigh...

Ello said...

This was really beautiful and haunting. I feel similarly as winter is not my favorite season. It speaks of harshness and desolation. I am sorry for your loss.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Julie, Stephen, Raine and Ello.

Raine,Dear Heart, it seems our feelings are much the same about a lot of things.

jason evans said...

You made your pain beautiful. I hope your art can make it bearable.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jason.
What would we do without the relief of words?

spyscribbler said...

Beautiful picture, bittersweet words. I hope your winter is a little warmer this year.

Bernita said...

Natasha, thank you.

Chumplet said...

I work at a regional newspaper, and you won't believe the extraordinary spike in obituaries during late November and through December. I find it uncanny.

Many of my relatives passed during this time of year. Is it the lack of sunlight? Is it the so-called holiday loneliness and the let-down associated with it? True, some are due to drinking-related traffic accidents, but most are our dear parents and long-time neighbours, just letting go.

I don't mind winter so much, until Christmas is over. Then I can't wait for spring. It's so dark. All the time. Darkest before Christmas.

Charles Gramlich said...

Beautifully written. winter does something to me as well, though I find the effect generally pleasant. Of course, I don't live through serious long winters down here. One of my favorite titles is "Reflections for the Winter of My soul." Your post reminds me of it.

Lisa said...

Your words are so elegant and precise. I'm sorry for your loss and I have similar feelings about this time of year. I lost my mother 34 years ago in November and today is the third year anniversary of my father's death. It does feel lonely.

Bernita said...

Sandra, I think some people are tied more strongly to seasonal rhythms, to the sense of endings.

Thank you, Charles. Winter is more than climate here, it is a cultural thing integrated into our psyche.

Robyn said...

Losing my mother just two weeks before Christmas was doubly hard on my dad- their anniversary was December 23. I find I don't want to spend Christmastime with anyone else- just my husband and my children. Extended family just reminds me of what I no longer enjoy.

Bernita said...

Bitter winds blow for you too, Lisa, this time of year. Thank you.

Bernita said...

And especially of those who are not there, Robyn.
Your mother was a woman of rare grace and great courage.

Jeff said...

Beautifully written, Bernita. I could actually feel the sadness in your words.
I'm sorry for your loss.

The Anti-Wife said...

"Winter makes me feel alone."

Ditto!
Beautifully written.

Karen Duvall said...

Bernita, I love the frost ferns. Such poetic words to commemorate the loss of a family member. A dear writer friend of mine recently passed away from cancer that we thought was still in remission. She didn't tell anyone because she wanted to keep her death private. Her friends mourn the loss of a lovely woman and talented author. My thoughts are with you, too.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

A beautiful, bitter sweet way to say it.
I think this is why so many dislike the winter season.

Julie said...

Charle's comment reflects our experience. Winters in the South of England are fairly mild - no more than a week or two of snow in February; but its surprising how many people experience SAD (seasonal affective disorder)due to low light, or the knock on effect of viruses. 'integrated into our psyche' registers. Must make it an especially hard time to bear loss.

SzélsőFa said...

Very poetic, I loved it. I'm sorry for your loss.

Bernita said...

Jeff, AW, Karen, Jennifer, Julie, Szelsofa.
Thank you.
It seems many of us share solitudes.

Church Lady said...

This is a beautiful and haunting tribute. "the harlequin shapes and shadows that stir and sweep across the winter landscape are truly ghosts." Stunning in its truth.

I wonder about the daylight connection Chumplet spoke of. A dear friend of mine struggles with bipolar. November and December are the worst for her depressions. March and April are the worst for her highs. Perhaps there is something....

I am very sorry for your loss. And I'm glad you put a warm bubble around Christmas. Who would we be without our celebrations of life?

Bernita said...

Thank you, Chris.
I don't think there's much question that the loss and lack of true light affects us all, deep in our primeval core; and some, like your friend, react more strongly to its absence.