I have felt the hard knuckle
of winter, have gorged myself
with the intoxication of nothing
to be done. Among the circling
rituals of work and the pileup
of winter’s wild edges, things
already named seem magically
strange. The deer grows grey
in winter light. The wind’s pipes
haunt the air. Yet in the boundary
between my self and this landscape,
I am closer to what feels hidden.
Soon muddy roots will feed
the bloom. They will not let
their moment slip away,
“Poemfields” was built from a line I wrote in my notebook: “I have felt the hard knuckle of winter.” At the time I was bemoaning another sucker punch from the “polar vortex,” and also trying to keep on top of an emotional pileup threatening my writing. The metaphors wouldn’t quit coming. Thankfully. “In the boundary between my self and this landscape” I could find renewal.
I am reminded that what happens between the poet and the reader depends on figurative language. The writer and reader collaborate in an interactive process. When the poet creates new relationships between two things not usually recognized as being alike, the reader can think new things.
Teachers and students who have experience reading poems can delight in seeing things through different lenses. They are not looking for the “correct” meaning, as if there is only one.
Teachers and students who read poems and go on to write them come to understand the need and purpose for metaphor when as writers they search the language for clarity and grace.
(Note: You can read more about coming into the world of a poem in Shirl’s book Poem Central: Word Journeys with Readers and Writers from Stenhouse Publishers.)