Cold Morning, by Eamon Brennan

Through an accidental crack in the curtain 
I can see the eight o’clock light change from 
charcoal to a faint gassy blue, inventing things 

in the morning that has a thick skin of ice on it 
as the water tank has, so nothing flows, all is bone, 
telling its tale of how hard the night had to be 

for any heart caught out in it, just flesh and blood 
no match for the mindless chill that’s settled in, 
a great stone bird, its wings stretched stiff 

from the tip of Letter Hill to the cobbled bay, its gaze 
glacial, its hook-and-scrabble claws fast clamped 
on every window, its petrifying breath a cage

In which all the warmth we were is shivering. 

It’s been brutal this past week. Lake fog shrouds the house all morning long. Chunks of ice clack against each other at water’s edge, and an occasional ice floe drifts by from the river channel, as hungry Bald Eagles fly in and out of the fog. As with most things in life, you have to keep telling yourself, “At least it’s not as bad as, say, White Sulpher Springs, MT at -44 degrees, or -33 degrees in Great Falls, or our poor Billings family. Our sanity has been salvaged on most of these extreme days by the blazing sunshine late in the afternoon, and by gorgeous sharp and crisp sunsets as the mercury plummets in the descending night. Any evening now, the new fingernail moon will greet us in the west, just as the sun leaves the sky.

On one cold and still afternoon, I walked out to the river which was mostly covered in ice, and watched swans and a crowd of geese loudly chatter as they bobbed together in blue slivers of open water. I imagined them sharing gossip about how March is just around the corner, and, don’t you feel the new warmth of the sun. In our house, there is a dramatic change in the light, from Winter’s darkest of days. By my final cup of coffee, the garage up the hill is outlined in early morning blue as I look out the pantry window. And, late afternoon sunshine beams into the living room, often with a blinding glare, that makes me move from chair to chair as I read the big fat book I bought to keep me going. Yesterday, I looked back again in my iPhotos library, to reassure myself that in every first weeks of March, there’s a shot of me sitting in bright sunshine on the porch off our bedroom, in a parka, but with sunglasses and sun hat, cold frosty beer in my hand at Happy Hour.

On Valentine’s Day morning, our forecasted high temperature is 14 degrees. A coincidence, perhaps, but I’m reading it as sign that better days–of all kinds– are not far off the horizon.


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