Parker Towle, Poetry

New Hampshire Notches in December

by Parker Towle

Crawford Notch—no views,
today watery snow
crusts the headlights, pebbles
the windshield. Deepening
ruts of a car that struggles
up ahead swerve with no center lines
to guide. When he stops
to strip ice, wet snow

swirls down his neck. Back inside
his reddened hands clutch
the wheel. It’s too late to turn back.
Wheel spins flick the speedometer.
Under Frankenstein cliffs
wind shifts lighter snow,
clears spots, jolts the car.
He shifts up on the flats toward

Bretton Woods and Twin. As
sudden as a shutter, snow
stops, no wind, clear
black. Within two minutes
or is it hours, millennia, a splash
rains down that wipers cannot wash,
roads glaze; He slows toward
Franconia Notch, more rocking wind.

 

 

Ann B. Day, Poetry

Winter Chores

by Ann B. Day

I trek to the barn
in the icy pre-light;
the frozen air stings
and pulls my skin tight.
Boots squeak on the snow
where footsteps have gone
into the sharpness
of a mid-winter dawn.

The cattle stand lined
in rigid regime,
their breath surrounds them
with frigid steam.
Frost etches the windows
and barnyard gate;
my kitchen stove smoke
rises thin and straight.

I fork hay to the cows
as the east shows a haze
where winter’s weak sun
begins with a glow.
Yet, in the dim light
and feeble rays,
the temperature stays
at twenty below.

 

 

Nori Odoi, Poetry

On Walking Through the Woods

in Deep Snow
    During a Blizzard
    Wearing Sneakers

by Nori Odoi

First observe:
That you have decided to do this
That the depth of snow varies
sometimes to your ankles
sometimes to your knees
sometimes to your hip
That there is an icy crust
sometimes it will hold you
sometimes it won’t
Sometimes it will hold you for a moment then break

That you can’t tell these things by looking
But only by taking a step
That you have decided to do this

When you look at your sneakers
See them transform into snowshoes
tight webs of sinew and ash
snow floating shoes
like the Hurons wove
Splay your toes wide
step forth broadly
step forth briskly
Fool the snow

Walk quickly so the crust will not collapse
But not so quickly you fall
Sometimes you will sink to your thigh

When this happens
do not fear
do not curse
be grateful for the moment
Breathe deeply and close your eyes
feel wind embrace you
feel crystal kisses covering your face
smell the purity snow brings
Then lift yourself and begin again

Do not look at your feet
Let them find their own path
Look forward, notice everything

See the twisted ruins of fern
how deep are they buried?
See the tangled knots of brush
can they support you?
See the snow hollows ringing trees
is there a surer way?
Let your eyes seek out your course
do not miss the silent guides
Do not miss the beauty

When you emerge, look back a moment

Breathe deeply
Give thanks for your journey
Let your laughter blow wildly with the wind

Then turn to the rest of your life

First observe:
That you have decided to do this
That life is sometimes shallow, sometimes deep
that you cannot tell this by looking
but only by taking a step
Let your laughter blow wildly with the wind
breathe deeply
give thanks
Do not miss the beauty

 

Parker Towle, Poetry

Remembrance

by Parker Towle

And so she puts extra leaves in the table, sets it
for us with old china from her mother and
silver purchased out of the frugality of the Great
Depression. Vegetables, as from her husband’s garden
steam on the stove. One great granddaughter in
crinoline skirt chases another in a tousled red wig from
room to room the way the three of us
boy cousins behaved in our aunt’s basement,
Thanksgiving years ago. The meal is set for
family and friends as it has been for many days for
centuries by this simple yet complicated
New England family in America. We bow our heads
to remember the empty chairs at the table and praise
our sense of duty and family, the devotion to labor,
passion of mind and body, the love of God
passed from our pilgrim kin like the heaped
platters of food around the table.

 

 

Deborah Murphy, Poetry

Mast Year

for Louise

by Deborah Murphy

Acorns fall from branches, tattoo the driveway and yard,
a mosaic of caps and stems and hard knots,
too many even for the squirrels and chipmunks
that dart across the lawn, race into trees.

When I was young, you gathered handfuls of stray buttons,
stored them in a quilted box. Brass and wood
for sweaters, small stars for my first grade dress.
Now the box sits unopened beside my bed.

This winter the squirrels will live on what they’ve buried,
an abundance that won’t outlast need.
And I will count you in seed pearls and tortoiseshells
pressed against my palm.

 

 

Jodi C. Williams, Poetry

Silent Words

by Jodi C. Williams

Satin in creamy waves falls downward,
hovers just above the floor, hiding wheels and
the collapsible stand the walnut coffin is laid on.

I feign aloofness, lean like collapsed cardboard
against the wall, snippets of words from
quiet conversations flit like fireflies appearing,
then fading into the background. A laugh
snorting out of my Aunt Shirley is a belch against
the moment, the death that brings us together.

But I’m not here. I’m remembering your arm
hanging over a Farmall Super A on a hot Summer day,
a Schaefer rocking slightly on the seat as you push
your weight on its rusty frame to stand. You
tolerate my curiosity about carburetors, belts,
and bolts for the tractor. You said I bugged you
with more questions than “an ear of corn has kernels.”
Acknowledged by only silence, no muttered
hellos, just a nod or a glance, I never had your
words, only moments a child folds into her mind;
helping you pull a dead calf with a come-a-long
from its bellowing mother, discarding its
limp body in a corner for burying later.

Only once I heard you say my name, and I lay
awake all night overcome by the sound of it in your
voice, as if when you breathed it, I finally existed.

Resuscitated by the smell of my aunt’s perfume
I look at you from a distance, still, silent,
surrounded by the creamy silk of the coffin
and then follow my aunt to stand beside you.
I hover looking at your Farmer’s face and exhale the
the word Grampa with a slight nod as if saying your
name out loud could breathe you back into existence.

 

Poetry, Rodger Martin

New Hampshire Scallion

by Rodger Martin

Up here, for once, humans keep silent
like parents gone for the weekend
leaving a house of spaces a child must fill.
It is April—before the garden and still cold.
The early sun tries to warm all it touches,
but the breeze steals what heat it can.

In most of this northern, temperate half
of the wobbling globe it is spring.
But out here, only onions have deep pockets,
show they believe the promise of spring.
Even the river lies, pretends to be not cold,
rolls quickly, numb beneath all that glitter.

Around here, one can trust the onion
or the sputtering drum of the grouse
coughing to life like some distant, old
one-lung Ford. Both root like oak
and will stay through April snow
and the late ice. How the scallion promises:
sweet, succulent. Sniff me now, it says.
Taste quickly my green pipe of life.

 

Old Swanzey Road
Photograph by Karen Hope