The Smell of a Black Cat on a Cold Winter’s Night

The Smell of a Black Cat on a Cold Winter’s Night

This post is contributed by Coastal Rivers Trustee Barnaby Porter. Read the previous post here.

And there are times when I wonder
What the essence of winter is
As if I must decide, of all its features
That which tells of winter best
And represents that token I would take
With me to remember winter by

It would have to be, I’m sure
Something that spoke of winter’s cold
And brought to mind the frigid needles
That work their way through my clothes
Gripping my ribs my arms and thighs
Biting my ears and numbing my toes

And what of winter’s snow, it’s whisper
As it settles in the woods
Complete and deep and white
Hiding mice and little things underneath its folds
And then, crusted, locked to the land
It hovers in a ring around the Moon

Then, too, there’s ice
For covering winter’s pond
For boring holes and fishing through
And glazing the heaving road
It finds and swells the forgotten bucket
Parting seams and pushing its bottom round

And other things come to mind
Besides the scrape and rumble of the plow
The clicking of bare branches
And the blowing echoes of winter’s moans
The tinkling of shards of ice
Or an insistent scratching at the door

The cheer of winter’s light
I would certainly want to bring
The way it thrills the winter morning
The way it makes my canary sing
There’s a spring of hope in its blue shadows
And in the pose of barn door beasts

Winter’s many sides, it seems
Are dear to life and resting graveyard souls
I see the steaming breath of horses
And, in the henhouse, frozen combs
Winter, as the bright portrayer of life
Makes music of the chains of cold

But the true essence of winter
Just where does it lie?
Is it all these things together
Under winter’s spitting sky?
Or is it something far, far simpler
Like the smell of a black cat on a cold winter’s night?

blue jays on a birdfeeder

Barnaby PorterArtist and author Barnaby Porter has had a varied career in marine research, aquaculture, and woodworking, among others. Most recently he partnered with his wife Susan as co-owners of the Maine Coast Book Shop & Cafe in downtown Damariscotta. Barnaby currently serves on Coastal Rivers’ Board of Trustees. For more about Barnaby, click here.

Photo courtesy of Barnaby Porter.