Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Cool-spooky shadow cast at night by the streetlights in Lincoln Park.

One of my great teachers in San Francisco told me that poetry, at this time of year, "cracks the ice in the heart of the earth," which apparently is necessary in order to remind her that though it's not yet spring, maybe she could begin to kick the machinery of spring into gear. He said that second part a lot more eloquently than I have here.

With that in mind, I proclaim the following: February will be Poetry Month at the chateau. I will ask dinner guests to bring a poem with them; after we eat, we can sit in the living room by the "fire" (three pillar candles) and read some poems aloud to each other.

It's kind of exciting to need poetry in DC. Our winters are so gentle compared with the harsh season in the midwest, also north of the Mason-Dixon line. Though somewhat warmer and much dryer than elsewhere, in DC we have had a Real Winter so far. Hence: poetry month at the chateau.

To kick off poetry month, (I know it isn't yet February, but I'm jazzed) here's one of my very favorite ice poems. I know it's rather dark, but I like it. Actually - I think it's funny.

Stay warm, y'all! Shalom.


They say the ice will hold
so there I go,
forced to believe them by my act of trusting people,
stepping out on it,

and naturally it gaps open
and I, forced to carry on coolly
by my act of being imperturbable,
slide erectly into the water wearing my captain's helmet,
waving to the shore with a sad smile,
"Goodbye my darlings, goodbye dear one,"
as the ice meets again over my head with a click.

--Edward Field


jeanette from everton terrace said...

I must be strange because I found it delightfully funny as well :)

ellen abbott said...

Oh, I love that top picture! and I laughed at the poem. dignity, by all means.

Reya Mellicker said...

By all means!! Ha!

Kerry said...

HA! Next time I wipe out on a patch of ice I am going to try desperately to maintain my dignity! Great poem, and I love your idea of a poetry-filled month. If I lived nearby I would crash your party with a sheaf of 28 favorites, one for each day.

Maybe you will share some of your favorites over the next few weeks?

mouse (aka kimy) said...

love that saying about how poetry cracks the ice i the heart of the earth....and the same can be said about its ability to crack ice in the human heart

and today is the birthday of one of the greatest poets to have trod on the earth - the great robert burns!

shalom sweet reya stay warm! downright balmy here today - might get to 33! after the last week at least it feels balmy - and i actually worked up a sweet on my morning walk!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

whoops worked up a sweat - maybe it was a sweet sweat!

Tess Kincaid said...

What a lovely idea. But then, you knew I would like it.

Washington Cube said...

The Winter Palace

Most people know more as they get older: I give all that the cold shoulder.

I spent my second quarter-century
Losing what I had learnt at university

And refusing to take in what had happened since. Now I know none of the names in the public prints,

And am starting to give offence by forgetting faces and swearing I’ve never been in certain places.

It will be worth it, if in the end I manage to blank out whatever it is that is doing the damage.

Then there will be nothing I know
My mind will fold into itself, like fields, like snow.

— Philip Larkin (1922 - 85)

Reya Mellicker said...

Love Philip Larkin.

Kim you worked up a sweet, I have no doubt about it.

Tess, Jeanette, Kim, Ellen, Kerry: you are all invited to dinner. Seriously. Cube, you too!

steven said...

i love philip larkin - that boy sang songs so loud off of the rooftops of his knowing. hoo boy! i can say that i've spent so much of my time sincd the age of twenty nfive blowing off everything i "learned" and then starting to really learn about this great wondrous crazy place. poetry month. hmmmm that's got such sweet potential!! go reya!!! steven

Tom said...

oh too cool. I'll be there, if only in the comment's section.

Jo said...

Yikes...nightmares, here I come. Can you imagine that click?

I love the idea of Poetry Month at the chateau.

Some of the dearest moments of my life were having poetry read to me...by my father, my teachers, and my love.

What an excellent idea.

Reya Mellicker said...

Hope you do NOT imagine the click, Jo, but rather the candlelight and poetry.

Jo said...

LOL. Thank you, Reya. I forgot to say I think your photos today are WONDERFUL. WoW!

Pauline said...

I wish I could join you at the chateau but alas, I am snowed in! And writing poetry. I'd bring soup and this poem :)


The sky lowers itself onto
the bed of earth, like and old woman
in a voluminous nightdress. She pulls
a snow cloud quilt up to the horizon
and sleeps.

Sometime after midnight she wakes,
shrieking like the wind,
trembling from a nightmare of dark and ice,
Snowflakes tumble down like falling stars
and catch in the frightened grass.

Pauline Clarke

Reya Mellicker said...

Pauline - wow!!

Storms do have personalities.

Also it is clear that you're sick and tired of winter. May your poetry crack the ice in the heart of the earth. May it be so!