The Poetry Porch

Weather Advisories
by John Hildebidle

in fact
our best hope
is, “Tomorrow
the air may just warm
above the freezing point,”
how truly grim the season,
how far we’ve sunk below
into true heart-chill, 
absolute zero
at the soul’s 


Two guys in tee-shirts, ignoring
the hard chill, pick-and-shovel boys
mining not ore, not salt, not coal,
but cindered dirty persistent snow-freeze,
the lastor so you could dreamof winter.

Then came the evening news:
“Winter Storm Warning overnight.”


Such a durable coldif it were
steaming, unendurable August
we’d be thinking of languor and cold showers.
Why can’t we recover that discomfort now,
to relieve its furious opposite.
Imagination’s, sadly, not up to the work.

Still, you learn to treasure small things
occasional nondescript birds, puffed in bushes,
stark branch geometries, white’s variety,
the delight of absence-of-breeze, 
sunshine in high cloudless blue sky.
But will even that energy flag, 
and only napping 
beneath an extravagance of blankets
serve the moment fully?


now yellowed, 
reduced to 
to season 
and foul mood,

cold, dark, bitter, 
endless. Thaw lies
so far distant, 
outlasting hope, 
dream, testing all 
best connivance. 

Wind, at other times
“fresh,” is now a curse.
The path’s treacherous.
Word is it’s the near 
edge of warming air.

Warming but far from warm, and that’s that.

Appalling, now
nearly St. Patrick’s Day.
We have a right to demand some

with a wind to boot
despair’s almost warming,
after its fashion. Reports
say near fifty by the weekend.
Can we truly risk believing them?

Witch-hazel madness bursts on corner lots,
the full sun's almost bask-mellow,
the breeze carries no anguish,
cardinals, mourning doves, geese,
fill the early air,
with bright promise.
yes, we’ve earned,

Goneutterly and entirely, that sad reminder,
the snowpile the driveway plow had built. Melted,
and evaporated besidesnot even a wet spot.
Now, with the mockingbirds in full song,
I could almost believe that it is in fact (and long,
too long overdue) spring. If I’m deluded,
whatever you do, don’t wise me up.

Hail? Damnation. What’s
that white? Not snow, surely
unacceptable. Too
many buds and blooms
refuse acquiescence.
As if it mattered. 

The Turning Point?

on grey, 
even new
growth shrinks beneath,
the river’s current
unforgiving, the trees
absolute throwbacks into
so many long winter months:
but somehow, afternoon,
the air relents, sky
breaks free, before
long it’s pure

and briefly
hatless, feckless,
unjacketed, I
pray it’s not interlude,
but premonition, lasting.)


Speak firmly, with assurance:
“Jonquil, daffodil, lilac, crocus,
forsythia, witch hazel, snowdrop,
hyacinth, magnolia, hawthorne, flowering cherry,
helibore; redwing, mocker, cardinal,
finch, jay starling, migrant goose.”
Repeat as needed. (Obsessively).

Copyright © 2004 by John Hildebidle.