When the Wind in January Wuthers


We had our first measurable snow yesterday and, today, the wind chills were in what I am sure any real scientist would call the “bitter” range. I stood outside for just a few minutes this afternoon, waiting for a cab, and my face and gloved fingers nearly froze. I came home to my little cottage where, in Ms. Rossetti’s words, “Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.”

Although my face and heart are turned towards Imbolc, my fingers and toes are firmly in January. Now, if ever, is the winter of my discontent.

I’m an old woman who worries about slipping on icy walks. I ask the nice young cab driver to wait, and watch, and make sure that I get inside before he leaves. Unsaid is that, if I fall and re-break my ankle, I want him to come cover me, call an ambulance, lose another fare saving me. I hate that.

Here is the poem it makes me remember:

This Inwardness, This Ice

~ Christian Wiman

This inwardness, this ice,
this wide boreal whiteness

into which he’s come
with a crawling sort of care

for the sky’s severer blue,
the edge on the air,

trusting his own lightness
and the feel as feeling goes;

this discipline, this glaze,
this cold opacity of days

begins to crack.
No marks, not one scar,

no sign of where they are,
these weaknesses rumoring through,

growing loud if he stays,
louder if he turns back.

Nothing to do but move.
Nowhere to go but on,

to creep, and breathe, and learn
a blue beyond belief,

an air too sharp to pause,
this distance, this burn,

this element of flaws
that winces as it gives.

Nothing to do but live.
Nowhere to be but gone.

And now the wind “wuthers,” to use a word from The Secret Garden, round my little cottage. And I curl my fingers, in their fingerless gloves, round my mug of tea and I send prayer of warmth to you. So mote it be.

Picture found here.


One response to “When the Wind in January Wuthers

  1. I find I am walking a little more carefully this winter- aware of my increasing fragility- distrustful of my balance. Winter brings out the old in me.

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