La Chanson d’Hiver Ancienne (The Ancient Winter Song)

A thousand yards of linen are not long enough to record this story,

written on the skins of onions

in yellow thread,

sewn by fingers of light.


I am in a place,

existing in liminal spaces,

like a shred of yesterday

lingering in a patch of morning shadow

fleeing the noon eye.


I am the concrete road,

splayed like a compass,

pointing toward your future;

walk on.


I am open,

split like the gaping mouths of lions,

my strength laying in the multiplicity of my pieces,

the hydra of my being;

I live.


Come to this place,

warm and humming:

the perfume of a hornet’s nest in June,

the smell of honey in a tree,

raw and woody.


Find me there,

between the gaps of leafless trees,

waiting like the smell of smoke,

in dappled puddles on a wet path.


I wait there writing my story,

on the backs of beetles,

and the fingers of bats.


I am there,

singing this poem

through the pores of a leaf,

the mouth of a dandelion.


I am there like a thought,

the memory of a still pond in winter,

the sadness of the night passed away.


So wait; be my friend.

Sing this song with me in the hollow of my open hand;

add to my fullness;

find me in the ancient song of winter:

Attendez-moi, aime-moi, et chanter,

mon cher, cher ami.


6 thoughts on “La Chanson d’Hiver Ancienne (The Ancient Winter Song)

  1. Are the first four lines yours? Wow, they sound ancient and evoke a primeval energy like the spell woven by witches. Unnerving. They set up the poem beautifully. What a wonderful choice of words in the second stanza to evoke the inner netherworld of winter or a winter-like state of being: liminal, shred, linger and flee. Very ghostly. They contrast shockingly with the solid words of the next stanza: concrete, splay, point and walk. I feel as if I’m being drawn from a violent whirlpool with the invitation to come to you. It feels like approaching a temple – daunting yet glorious – and yet you reassure us it’s a warm, comfortable place: honeyed, perfumed, woody. Is that winter? Or is it the poet? The images of the backs of beetles and the fingers of bats resonate with the images in the first stanza and I feel as if I’ve taken a magical journey to find you – a winter sprite (but full of light or darkness, I’m not sure!) And when the pores of a leaf and the mouth of a dandelion become the medium through which we meet, you remain as ethereal as before: a thought, a memory, a time gone by. I’m unnerved again and don’t know where to turn when you ask us to wait and be your friend, to acknowledge the emptiness of winter and celebrate it – to be a part of the coming fullness of Spring even in the midst of winter! The repetition of the invitation to wait, to love and to sing in French adds to the magic of this lyrical ode to a season but also to friendship. I love it!

    • Ah! I love to hear how the images moved you. It was a glorious poem to be a part of. It was quite haunting to write as well, but so achingly dear and intimate at the same time– two qualities I associate with eternity, ancient-ness. Thanks for reading dad!

  2. hey man, I dig this a lot, really. Some tight imagery (ie. backs of beetles, fingers of bats), even more I love how in your response to the comment above you said it was a glorious poem to be a part of. I feel that way when I write poems…ya know, not you (you as in general) writing or inventing, but just receiving it, or something a long those lines. Anyway man keep it up.

  3. Yeah! I totally get that. The poem literally found me as I ran to Eliestoun today. Poetry is about receptivity and humility to me; you’ve got to want to hear the poem, not write it (as you know). Thanks for reading Justin! Best to you

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