Poem of the Week

DECEMBER 1

Lindsay Turner

I could see the branches reflected in the surface of the table

It was snowing in the Appenzell, it was snowing in Denver
The air had that purple light in it at night
It was snowing on the windy Blue Ridge plateau

My mother wiped down all the surfaces until they shone and wiped them again
Like she was in a nightmare of her own

The December light is cold and watery
The bare trees hold their positions and you can’t convince them of anything
You can’t convince them they don’t have to

The air had that purple light in it at night
It had started snowing and the dream was a voice calling me sweetheart
And the madder I got the more it called me sweetheart

(In the south the white comes more from the fog but the glare effect is mostly the same)

I just wanted her to stop cleaning but she wouldn’t be persuaded, like the trees
holding their positions across the sky

Oh my mother is a tree

It was snowing in the mountains and already it was deep in the woods
In a nightgown, in a parka    In the white December light
My mother, a bare tree in a place where it is going to snow

Lindsay Turner is the author of Songs & Ballads and the translator of several volumes of contemporary Francophone poetry and philosophy. She is assistant professor in the Department of English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver.
Originally published:
December 1, 2021

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