“Winter Widow”…..

My beautiful picture



For Gay.

I was unhappy with the opening line….and wrote to Dr. RK Singh in Mumbai about this.  He suggested “Winter’s naked trees” for the opening, and it works.  He also wrote of too many adjectives.  I took some out.  Perhaps it reads better.

Lady Nyo



Winter’s naked trees,

Lit by a slivered crescent moon,

Casting shadows upon a frigid ground,

Skeletons in the moonlight

Dark ghosts.

A fresh widow

Little flesh about her,

Resembling  those brittle branches

 In the sullen night.

There was a time when she was juicy,

Ripe with swelling life,

Velvet of skin.

She lapped at life with full lips,

Embracing passions.

Speared on her husband

She moaned, screamed with laughter,

Sheer joy.

Her life had been full,




A portrait of promise.

He died and life turned surreal,

The reason for living gone.

Life’s temperature  grown cold,

Like him under the soil.

It started to snow,

A gentle covering of branch

Bush, ground,

A tender benediction,

A white blanket to her pain.

She knelt in the garden

Suddenly grateful to feel anything

Even the cold.

She would live,

She knew this now,

But he must be so cold under the snow.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

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22 Responses to ““Winter Widow”…..”

  1. brian miller Says:


    nice imagery in the opening gambit….and the metaphor you spin our of it as her…the widow, which already answers the question but i like how you flesh it out…

    speared by her husband is cool…reminds me a bit of a line by nikki giovanni….

    the numbness after losing your love too…wanting to feel even the cold…its real. full of feeling in this jane.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Brian…..well, that is the connection that we all, (as poets) try to make….the numbness that you reference and the what is center to the poem, well, that is what it must feel like….wanting any sensation where you are so shocked numb that life has no sensation at all. You walk as a ghost in an alien world.

    Actually, I rewrote this poem…one of my very first in 2008 and it was more erotic…but we age and we see the faults in this…well, the miss-steps, perhaps. The sentiment of this poem should not be erotic. Even though the original was much erotic, it was claimed and used by a therapy group for recent widows. LOL! I guess there is a purpose for all that we write when we try to write it close to our hearts.

    We are expecting an ice storm here…will probably lose power, and I’ll be over soon. have to get in a supply of wood to the back porch…we heat with a woodstove, and it’s so far…cozy in this old house….but! We are expecting 1/2 an inch (!!!) of ice on the trees and powerlines…Yikes….We fully expect to lose power for a few days…but damn….there is William Stafford to read and so many other poets!!!

    Thank you, Brian, always, my friend.

    Hugs, jane


  3. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    I think this is poetry at its best.. telling a story.. a widow learning to cope.. and how she’s almost part of the winter trees… (they are so beautiful in their intricate patterns)… still for her there is hope of recovery… almost like I expect the leaves of spring starting to sprout…


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Bjorn….thank you so much. This is the highest praise a poet could get! I don’t know that my poetry deserves this, but I think you hit on EXACTLY was we want to do: to tell a story with some sort of redemption. Otherwise, it can become babel.

    I have been in a ‘place’ of almost the same sentiment…despair. And I looked to the surrounding landscape, wanting to just disappear into the foliage….those incredible Oaks and Pecans and Hickorys in the South USA. These trees are so…ever lasting…that they give hope that there is some point to all the pain and that it will pass. Yes, the trees are something to cleave ourselves to. Their presence dominates so much more than our individual pain.

    Thank you so much Bjorn. You have described something that I think is very hard to do with poetry: to weave a story that has a moral I think…or perhaps hope.

    Hugs, Jane


  5. Bodhirose Says:

    Certainly this is filled with passion and such a description of a widow in winter…can’t get colder than that. The memory of her “juicy” life before with her husband was stellar! Now this I loved to read…thanks!


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Ahhh…this was such a lovely comment. The power is flickering on and off…we are expecting an ice storm here….”catastrophic’ they say….I’ll visit you when the power is more stable!!!

    Thank you, so much for reading and your comment.



  7. Bodhirose Says:

    Jane, the news tonight showed us that catastrophic storm sweeping across the nation. I just can’t believe what you poor people have gone through this winter. Take care…don’t worry about visiting me!



  8. Colin Morgan Says:

    The bleakness of the terrible loss is well captured here – the poem resonates with my observations on the effect of losing a life partner and the contrast with the former warmth is well put. This works well for me. (However, following on, there can be warmth in life -another season – again…)


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Dear Colin, Thank you so much for reading and your insightful comment. It helps so much to hear of the experience of other people. Perhaps the point of our poetry is making those very important connecctions.

    And your point about warmth in another season is of the greatest hope!

    Hugs, Jane


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Gayle! Up early and the ice is thickening and the winds picking up fast. Power is flickering…truly a terrible winter all over. Stay warm, dear heart.

    Hugs, Jane


  11. ManicDdaily Says:

    Beautiful–a very compelling narrative and imagery–and congrats!


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Hi K! Been thinking of you lately. How are you?

    I shortened this poem a lot. cut out quite a bit, but lately, it seems this is so with most of my poetry. I seem to be going ‘simple’. Probably more than just in the verses, too. lol.

    And thank you for reading and your comment. The book benefits by Gary Hart’s photo wrapping around the whole thing.



  13. Laura Hegfield Says:

    such tenderness in the harsh reality of loss… beautiful dear Jane.


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Laura! Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. And thank you for understanding.

    Hugs, Jane


  15. Kay Salady Says:

    Wow, what a riveting narrative!


  16. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Kay. Sometimes you Need adjectives!



  17. ayala Says:

    Beautiful poem!


  18. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Ayala!

    Hugs, Jane


  19. TR Says:

    Hi Jane,
    This was really beautiful. Beauty out of sadness – the words are wonderful. My favorite “A white blanket to her pain.”
    Hugs, TR


  20. ladynyo Says:

    Ohhh…TR…I am so glad I didn’t change that phrase, was about to, but let it go. LOL! I was thinking ‘a balm to her pain”, etc…but left it as it was. Yes, there is beauty out of sadness, but it isn’t something that is immediately known. And that moment where healing begins?? That was when she knelt down in the snow and felt, finally…something.

    thank you, TR, for more than you know!

    Hugs, Jane


  21. Gay Reiser Cannon Says:

    Dear Jane. At last I found the link to this. I apologize again for not responding earlier.

    This is a beautiful and exquisitely wrought poem. I AM honored that you dedicate it to me. Such a compliment to be considered by any artist in poetry.

    I think emotionally this is a verity for anyone who loses a mate that they love – certainly (and oddly I think) I have over the years visualized him underground. He died in July and I wore white to the funeral – a favorite dress he had bought me. I had him buried in fine trousers, a cashmere sports coat and his favorite tie and included his ubiquitous glasses (just in case there’s anything to “rising from the dead”). I wanted him in fabric that might withstand hard season and still think so when it is bitter cold.

    But the poem surmounts reality. The metaphor is wider – a vision of the fullness of life, and the lean airiness of death – the skeletal longing deep at the center – all caught so finely here.

    Thank you dear Jane. Don’t think I don’t care – for I always do…I’m just so easily distracted these days. (sorry)


  22. ladynyo Says:

    Dear Gay, I wish I could ‘see’ poetry, especially my own, as you do. And always have. You have a particular vision that is so valuable…critics should study your words, dear friend. I am serious. Every time you comment on a poem, either mine or others, I learn so much more about the poetry, but also the life around the poem….or where the poem came from. Ah, Gay…your comment brought me to tears…again.

    That such love exists, and such care after death (the glasses!) and the cloth. Well, when my dear father died in 1989, he had in his pocket his skate key from 70 years before. I can relate.

    You deserve even better poety, Gay, but know this is to be published in July in PoetCRIT Journal in Mumbai, India.

    With my love,


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