This winter’s day



You do not have the flu.
The cat is not sick, nor the dog lost.
The bitter cold has not burst the pipes.
The firewood is dry enough to catch the perfect flame
thrown by the ordinary wonder of a rough-struck match.

The small, wild things — plumed, delicate —
fly hollow-boned to the feeders you have filled,
harvest the seed-scattered deck you have cleared.
Drink from the heated bath, ringed by ice.

Two degrees at daybreak.  Brittle and beautiful.

The deer mouths grain from a clearing in the snow,
her face flecked with frost,
the coarse, thick coat encircling her graceful body
and likely another:  this spring’s fawn
who might be born on a day
you cannot imagine

and rise on spindly legs to nurse,
and grow strong and sturdy beside this doe.
And return next winter, face flecked with frost,
swaddled in her coarse, thick yearling’s coat,
mouthing grain from a clearing in the snow.

Or — on a day you cannot imagine —
die in her mother’s womb.
Or be taken by a mountain lion.
Or a bear.  Or a car.  Or a mystery.

On a day you cannot imagine
you will not be able to shovel snow
or fill feeders, or offer grain.
Or be dazzled by the red nape
of a woodpecker’s neck,
or the dark geometry of shapes
cut on a bright blanket by the winter sun.

Already you are not what you were,
but — this is important — not yet what you will be.
And no one you love is dying, on this day.

On this day, you can still do;
you can still declare beauty
between sorrows.
On this winter’s day.





  1. Cate, if you ever write a book of poetry please let me know. I would purchase it in a flash. You really do have such an incredible gift.


    1. I will. Thank you for your kind encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nothing original that I can add except to echo all the appreciation offered by others and add mine to the chorus.


    1. Thank you, my friend.


  3. I know I will enjoy your offerings, thanks so much Cate. Have you looked on you tube at the chicken running to meet the school bus? Pretty darn cute. Can’t say I appreciate chickens, saw one peck Dad’s hand when I was little, lots of blood, how dare they? You are Grandpa Shaw’s girl.


    1. It means a lot to me that you’re reading, Aunt Nance; thank you. I have not seen the YouTube video but will find it. I guess we’re both Shaw’s girls. 🙂 Nothing but gratitude for that!


  4. beautiful, Cate. Love the appreciation of the ephemeral and persistent now.


    1. Thanks, Steph!


  5. This is so beautiful. Thank you. I love poetry, especially poetry that touches the heart. How could this poem not have touched my heart? Such gentle wisdom. So open. So lyrical. Such an affirmation of what is in this moment. I am so grateful for every precious second of this gift of life that I have been graced with. As I read the words you have written, I am reminded to celebrate my life, to enjoy what I have been given, both positive and negative…all of it a gift. This poem and lovely picture made my day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so happy to hear that the poem touched you and gladdened your heart; thank you for sharing such a lovely response. I’m not always good at appreciating the moment or the beauty of life, though that clarity of vision is most welcome whenever I’m visited by it. The natural world and animals of all kinds seem to be the best awakeners for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. Thank you for your kind words. Like you, I’m not always good at appreciating the moment or the beauty of life, and like you that clarity of vision is always very welcome when it presents itself. For me, when I think about it, the best awakeners are all of the wonderful expressions of nature, meditation, and poetry. As a matter of fact, I just read this beautiful poem again, and again, it had the same powerful effect. As I take in your words I feel my heart open wide; I also feel an incredible sense of peace.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Lovely to hear!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Michele Sproull · · Reply

    Lovely. It turned out real nice.


    1. Thanks, Chele.


  7. I will declare beauty between those sorrows, Cate. Thank you for this.


    1. You’re welcome, Bob. Your regard, as an exquisite poet, means a great deal.


  8. Breathtaking!


    1. Thank you, dear Jane. This arrival of winter, so belated, is especially wondrous.


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