What Will Winter Over?
Much must. Old nut bearers, leaf returners.
Old man forest and his just sprung wife.
I have faith in those wild orange day lilies
and forsythia, but Black-eyed Susans
and stargazers have fooled me before.
Good chances for the wild daisies
and New England asters I moved in
with and chicory at the mailbox.
As for us, Little Dog has never
worn a boot and can play divine in a coat.
Big Dog’s back fur is knotting up
for a cold blow. They’ll survive.
Folks here lament that most people
want to go somewhere else
along about March, a poetry convention
in Palm Springs or Key West.
To winter over: tuck in. Roll up. Fight snow blind.
Suck in knife-blade cold. Remember this fall
noon when the warm air settles the leaves reluctant
to let go before the cold betrays your fingers.
Dream up winter gods. Leathery ones that burrow
in old leaves or mine holes below the rock ledge.
I almost hear them yawning, pushing aside
blood-frozen frogs and chipmunk caches.
To rejoice in the wind, stretch ice tongues
to blizzards, laugh at anything that shivers.
This fantasy suggests permanence.
No one knows what winter brings.
Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet who knows that November 2020 was the third warmest November in Vermont’s record as 2020 is in line to be one of the warmest years worldwide in history. Still the question persists of what will winter over, what will make it to survive in the coming year. This poem first appeared in Zig Zag, a journal from Addison County, Vermont.
[image: A green man carved from a tree trunk | Bill Allsopp/LOOP IMAGES / Getty Images]