this morning, upon waking
I ventured outside to feel the crisp, clean air,
stinging my still-drowsy lungs like needles –
proof I am alive.
In exhilaration, I shiver,
blood surging through my veins
while my quickened breath,
like wisps of smoke rising from a chimney,
breaks free from my lips to dance in the winter winds.
spellbound for a moment,
the shrill song of a blue jay shatters my daydream,
luring me back to the here and now.
glancing down, I suddenly notice beneath my feet
a line on the dampened earth
where the softly dappled sunlight
parts the stubborn leaves of evergreens,
filtering through the forest
to caress the chilled flora below.
to one side, this line
of sun-drenched demarcation
renders the down-trodden turf lightly bronzed,
dampened by dew.
On the other, there lies
tucked away amongst shadows
a sight apt to startle such southernly eyes –
foliage mysteriously shrouded
in a blanket of lingering frost.
as if by some invisible force,
I kneel down, intrigued,
hoping to catch a more intimate glimpse
of these lily-white threads of ice,
so intricately woven by nature
upon a stoic, emerald green lawn.
though seeking at first in my awe to admire,
I know not how to be gentle –
first the soles of my feet and then my careless knees
bruise the soft ground below,
shattering an iridescent display.
Shaking my head, I quickly rise,
recoiling from the damp soil-stains still lingering on my legs –
an uncomfortable reminder of my guilt (and lack of grace).
under my toes, bent blades of grass
now freed of their icy armor
seem slightly startled by their newfound nakedness.
more tender and welcoming they sway,
their frosty spikes and tendrils having fallen away,
yet also suddenly vulnerable.
how in pondering a wintry scene,
my mind came to dwell on matters of the heart.
So often we strive, with good intentions
to lock our tender cores away
in icy, impenetrable fortresses that intimidate all others,
fearing the moment a determined ray of sunlight
might succeed in melting our carefully frozen hulls,
unveiling the fragile souls within.
is it truly better, I often wonder,
when all is said and done,
to live unfettered by heartbreak,
not once exposed, never vulnerable,
yet never having known true love,
than to have loved with reckless abandon
and gambled one’s affections
in a game of cruel, uncalculated risk?
the ice queen’s realm is often rather lonely,
and though she might appear haughty as she mimics Houdini,
it is not the admirer she spurns –
in spite of her intricate, artful defenses,
she falls in love far too easily,
and yearns to experience love in return.
perhaps, behind the permafrost,
that brittle, cool demeanor,
a blazing summer has been somewhere buried.
perhaps she simply dreads the day
when her still-tender heart,
blemished and undeserving,
is bewitched once again by such incandescent idolatry
emanating uninhibited from the eyes of another,
and begins its slow, terrifying thaw
beneath the woeful warmth of three short words,
so thoughtlessly whispered.