In a time of snow

A forest inside at the Art Gallery of Alberta, by Arlene Waslynchuk

We’re thinking about putting wireframe signs outside for the event I’m working on, right? Fancy election-style things you can’t miss to tell you, Interesting speakers this way, follow me! And believe it or not, we’re worried about whether the snow is deep enough to keep them standing up. In mid-January. In Edmonton. This is usually a month you feel in your bones.

This strange ambivalent weather we’re having has made me think about a poem by Mary Oliver. She’s an American writer, and really seems to get the link I seem to grasp for between our bodies and the rest of the universe.

This poem is called ‘Driving through the Wind River Reservation: A poem of Black Bear.’

In the time of snow, in the time of sleep.
The rivers themselves changed into links
of white iron, holding everything. Once
she woke deep in the leaves under
the fallen tree and peered
through the loose bark and saw him:
a tall white bone
with thick shoulders, like a wrestler,
roaring the saw-toothed music
of wind and sleet, legs pumping
up and down the hills.
Well, she thought, he’ll wear himself out
running around like that.
She slept again
while he drove on through the trees,
snapping off the cold pines, gasping,
rearranging over and over
the enormous drifts. Finally one morning
the sun rose up like a pot of blood
and his knees buckled.
Well, she whispered from the leaves,
that’s that. In the distance
the ice began to boom and wrinkle and a dampness
that could not be defeated began
to come from her, her breathing
enlarged, oh, tender mountain, she rearranged
herself so that the cubs
could slide from her body, so that the rivers
would flow.

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