Dogs and Magpies The Claws of January
Karen Vande Bossche
Only Now I thought there was only now. Lois Lowry, The Giver
Asphalt sparkles with ice crystals, reflecting the Wolf Moon through bare stick alder. Howling wind tears hood from head, snaps at my back, and I hesitate. Was there always this impatient night, this craving, cold and condensed. Frost claws the toes of my fur lined boots. How can this old moon, waiting to crest in snow now wear your face?
I’m staring at a bad painting. I attempted this particular canvas. Painting takes focus. Colors become with patience, time, many strokes. And when achieved, precision of placement is the next challenge. Good thing I’m not painting today, just shaping sloppy words.
The magpies are taunting the dogs again. Black feathers stark in the scape of snow, sitting in the branches staring down at my dogs howling up at them. I sit book in hand, looking for inspiration but all I can think is it’s cold, January in Montana. I go out to retrieve some firewood and tell the hounds to forget about it. Creating is all the same. I sit cross-legged. The fire won’t start. I flick the lighter’s wheel, sparks, flame jump at paper, but smoke upon cedar. Curls of white ribbon depart the wood burning stove’s mouth, wisps extending to dissolve. Trail, my coonhound, noses me. He doesn’t understand what I am doing. What am I doing? He’s seen me do this before, but he still doesn’t get why. My throat is scratched out here. There’s a lot of sky and the snow steals the sounds. I’ve got a lot to say but not much to say it to. Just my pups and those magpies.
A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim