It’s officially the beginning of The Season. This year, I’m challenging myself to write a piece of prose poetry for each of the days leading up to Christmas. Trying to get back into the rhythm of writing prose poetry — we’ll see how it goes. Check back for new ones regularly, and let me know your thoughts!
1 | Day One
For now, the ducks and red-billed geese still cut the mirrored surface of the pond, the feathered heads of the reeds that line its banks crowned with winter’s first cracking frost. At island’s edge, a single red-cloaked maple remains adorned with all its autumn finery, the robin’s song cracking through ice-laden branches. Still, the yolk-golden light of morning breaks over grove and water. By the barest of degrees, the frost begins to melt. We step out into the sugar-plum light, and the first deep breath of cold braces, but does not leave its teethmarks on our lungs. We do not shiver. This is only the first day of many. There is time, yet, before the world will fall asleep. There is time yet for the cold to come.
2 | The Next Morning
Night still lingers at the edge of things, dawn hesitant to show itself in full glory. We wake from tangled dreams to frost patterning lace upon the windows, the world outside reduced to crystalline shadows of fog and glass. Lamps flicked on, the heating hisses, we pad downstairs on naked feet. Water boils with a rumble like distant thunder, but this bleakness comes not from the storm, only winter’s touch. Coffee tastes better in the dark.
3 | In Childhood Dreams…
Christmas arrives with a whiff of magic. Out of the attic, we pull out the old dusty tree we’ve had since I was three, fitting together faux-pine branches and making sure the biggest ones end up properly at the bottom. Still, somehow, it always ends up lopsided, but draped with lights and tinsel, we all pretend not to notice. Mom shows me how to turn paperclips into bauble hangers and points out where to place them. Dad lifts me up to place our golden angel at the very top, and in the glow of the fairylights, her wings shift and shimmer with an echo of life. She looks down upon us, her porcelain face patient and unblinking. She will watch as the presents gather, will watch as the visitors flit by, day after day. And at the end, we will take her down, and tuck her away with the tree again, stow them back upstairs in the dark.
4 | The Wreath
The empty house is a nest of possibilities, our sparse furniture only beginning to show the barest outline of what might be. Upstairs, the bedroom comes with a walk in closet, which we stuff with books and blankets and fairy lights, a place for rediscovering childhood pleasures. The walls are bare, the curtains left threadbare by the previous occupants, the furniture unloved, well-worn. Even after our first trip to the grocers, there are too many hollow cuboards, the fridge still half-empty, just milk and eggs. But among the precious staples: pasta, rice, fresh-baked bread — the wreath gleams, all glossy needles and gold dust. Hung on the wall, it makes it feel more like Christmas. Hung on the wall, it gives this place the first feelings of home.
5 | Hibernation
Even the maples, as the weather snaps and the first ice crystals drift down from cloud-swept skies; even the squirrels, who have spent all the shortening days industriously gathering their winter crop; even the badgers, the bears, the hedgehogs and voles will spend months curled up together to stave away the winter’s chill, their little bodies turned to soft, breathing heaps of warmth beneath the snow, sleeping and dreaming of the spring to come. In their slumber, winter will not touch them. Winter will pass them by. Meanwhile, we trudge on, braving the elements — for what we cannot say. Even the maples will spend this season recovering their strength. Why not us?
6 | This Room
On every surface, the gloss of evergreen. Baubles in a vase on the makeshift coffee table, their colourful shine. A candle winking on a shelf. The smell of cinnamon and pine. Lights shining bright on strings along the window. The tree in one corner, fragrant and glittering. And in the middle of it all, two people searching together for home.