Imagine a Winter Morning
with a sky so low, so intimate—
a suspended bell jar, glazed ice-blue.
Imagine a sun trapped within,
rays ricocheting between the
concave firmament and hillsides that
lie splendid beneath a mask of snow,
smooth and unblemished
as a geisha’s painted face.
And the sparkling air?
crackling neon green.
Imagine three bay horses,
that beneath their frolicking hooves
lies yesterday’s slushy pond,
forgotten and unrecognizable,
crisp and luxurious as a
line-dried, cotton sheet.
Imagine your heart,
holding the three horses
in suspended animation,
your terror belied by a jolt of pure joy;
your soul, soothed by such beauty
at the brink of unbearable tragedy—
a confusing contradiction that you will
mull over for years to come,
while the three horses, unfettered
by forethought or regret,
live in the moment—even now, flying
across the fragile course at a dead heat,
hooves hammering thunder,
the anvil, Death’s lovely, icy shoulders.
by Karen Whittington Nelson, first published in Women Speak, Volume 5 (Women of Appalachia Project/ 2020)
Editor’s Note: Crisp, imaginative imagery frames the speaker’s fear and joy as one startling moment in this excellent winter poem.
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