Monday, February 04, 2013

Stopping By Me, On A Snowy Evening

by CWK

I was standing in the path
of a blizzard bearing down fast.
The world was white like lightning,
but to me this was not frightening –
I'd never felt better or warmer;
for I had, of a sudden, moments before
with winter become smitten –
my feet were frostbitten,
and it was snowing.

Frigid February grew bold with cold,
and sent forth, in chilling winds, a warning,
“You fool! Seek shelter.”
Despite the warning sent,
I stood still, as content
as a tulip on a sunny summer morning.
To spite the warning given,
I stood beside –  not under – an awning:
out in – absorbing even –  the elements.

I was wearing only a thin white button down
over an old college T-Shirt,
blacks khakis, and running shoes,
no gloves, and not a coat.
My hair and feet were soaked
with icy dew when it occurred to me that –
being in too much a hurry –
I had left my winter wear at home that morning –
but I remained unworried.

Then, with wrath persistent,
freezing rain accosted me, from head to toe
with brutal chilling violence,
and set my face afire with frosty glow –
I counted this a gift bestowed.
I own that this rain had – if not kindness –
a certain feminine charm.
So, when body numbed, with feeling absent –
I still was not alarmed.
For, by then, a fire was kindled within
that kept me strangely warm.
I began to wonder if frostbite was in kind,
and just a state of mind.

I stood stoically, a statue, motionless,
as others dressed more warmly,
shivered wildly, in growing distress,
while cursing the falling flurries.
They spoke of getting out of the cold soon
as the opportunity arose,
and into some dryer clothes.
They looked for warmth elsewhere –
and it may be folly, but I dare
say it was the better part of wisdom –
I looked for warmth right there.

They were like dead men on a pyre
shuffling for a seat.
I was like a man by a fire
attending on a feast.
I was not cold, no, not in the least.

One by one, they fled the frost
in solemn sorrowful succession
akin, it seemed then, to a funeral procession;
as for me, I counted the cost
of loving winter -- and seeing my ledger
flush rich to the brim with affection --
I loved her again, even more.
And, it may not have been discretion,
but I dare say it was the better part of valor:
when the last man left,
and I stood all by myself,
I told winter I adored her.

I understood then that changing climes
will always change a changing mind;
they sought warmth; heat they got,
and then mistook it for the thing they sought.
As for me, as I blessed my lot,
and found joy in what to me was brought
without a thought of what was not.
I was, by consent, by contentment, caught.

"It’s God’s will,"
I sang in refrains soft and meek;
That melody once, and still, instills
my soul with joy increased.

As I sang, eternity was driving down on me
with a serene sleepy certainty
in the slow fall of the snow fall.
By my count (and I kept count of all),
it took 10 minutes for one fluffly flake to make
his dithering descent 
before landing silent
on the sidewalk,
and I thought, Time is so small.

And I thought,
God’s purposes are sweet and right,
but they are obscure
from mortal men's sight:
like the stars beyond the snow;
of this, at least, I'm sure –
though all the rest is hidden.
And I thought,
the world is snow white tonight
– not because I am pure
– but because I am forgiven.

It was a long way past midnight
when the shuddering moonlight
was covered complete by snow blankets –
but the sky was full light – no dark.
Try as I might,
I could not spot a single ray of star light –
'twas snow crystals shining bright,
enough to light my little world,
plus other worlds unknown.
Each flake beamed into sight
with a light from without, but it’s own –
as if in heaven’s glory dressed;
as if by heaven gently blessed
with luminescence just before descent.
The light of that night was a miracle, I guess:
a divine surprise to remind the darkness
that God grants light when
and where He pleases.

In the shadow of such light,
I fell into a dazed delight
and turned my face skyward
and basked, for the first time, in snowshine.
Then, I stretched my hands forth,
and felt, upon my skin, the comfort
of warm ice making first touch;
it was almost too much.
Then and there my heart grew festive
with a foreign peace surpassing evasion:
a peace strange, and gentle, but aggressive;
a peace akin to an invasion.

At last, I rolled my troubles into snow balls,
and tossed them into the face of the storm above:
"Winter may love me not," I called,
"but I am, with dear winter, forever in love."

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