Climacteric by Cynthia Neely


You woke today to an ache
you thought was spent—that season
already mourned and set aside,
flushed away like pink-tinged tissue.
It’s a late-March-snow in February, far
too early to be so transient; yet
its whitewash is not unwelcome to the grime
of the fading season. Even now,
as wasps stumble out of the woodwork, fumble
drunken and useless on gray stone floors, winter
begins its end, always before you are ready, always
before your mind has softened
to the idea of it. You hold on too long,
as if letting go will lose…what?
The clean and cold, the muffled
and muffed, safely layered in wool and white?
Or the weightlessness that comes with snow?
It’s not that you dread the beginning
of the new, but the ending
of the old. Still you lighten your step
when the earth is young, green rising,
and despair spring petals’ fade.
You bask in the heat of long days,
relish the taste of salt, then miss the sweat of it
in coming shadows. How you whistle
so you can see your breath
in the first frost of fall, but grieve
that last leaf ’s bright tumble.

by Cynthia Neely, first appeared in Bellevue Review (runner up for the Vilcek Prize)

Editor’s Note: Beautiful use of alliteration enhances the imagery in this poem, creating an atmosphere of calm even as the speaker’s ambivalence resists dismissal.

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