“Seasons Change”


(Watercolor, Dawn Breaks, jane kohut-bartels, 2000)

Over at dverse, Paul Dear is giving a prompt of “River” meaning many things to different poets. This is my interpretation.


I took a walk this morning.

The seasons have changed here

though where you are they don’t.

The dried, brittle grass beneath my feet

made a consistent crackle,

echoed by the gossip of sparrows above.


The leaves are stripped from the birches and maples.

They fell like rain on a fallow ground one day

and I didn’t see them go.


I think of your rounded arms when I see the shedding birches,

the smooth bark like white skin with a faint pulse of the river beneath.


Do you remember that river, when it scared you to stand close to the bank?

You thought the earth would slip inward,

take you on a wild ride downstream where

I couldn’t retrieve you,

and I saw for an instant your raised arms imploring me silently to save you—

though it never happened and you never slipped down the bank and I never could save you.


But imagination plays with your mind when it’s all that is left.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

Tags: , ,

36 Responses to ““Seasons Change””

  1. kanzensakura Says:

    This is lovely Jane. I love that the leaves fell like rain and you didn’t see them go. This is such a wistful piece.


  2. paul scribbles Says:

    Wow. It has been amazing doing the rounds this evening and seeing what folk are bringing to the River theme. This is exceptional and opened up into other realms with this line ‘though where you are they don’t.’ From then on in I was captivated by your narrative of loss, of life and of course of death itself. The resolution of the poem is hauntingly good. Thank You.


  3. Maureen Sudlow Says:



  4. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    What a heartbreaking conclusion of this poem… and how dark a river might be in winter… wonderful poetry, where the strength is very much in speaking to someone listening,


  5. Beverly Crawford Says:

    This is one of those poems that leaves me wanting to hear the “rest of the story”. Beautifully written. Evocative.


  6. kim881 Says:

    Beautiful, Jane, poem and water colour! I was strolling along there with you, soaking up the sounds and sights. I love the lines:
    ‘I think of your rounded arms when I see the shedding birches,
    the smooth bark like white skin with a faint pulse of the river beneath’.


  7. frankhubeny Says:

    I tend to avoid rivers except from a distance or if they are very shallow. It is like being lost in the woods except it is faster. I liked the phrase “I never could save you” which is probably realistic although it may refer to some other aspect of the “you” who is remembered for some reason.


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Well, poetry is open to interpretation. I think the ‘I never could save you’ is probably a reference to something less realistic. But it’s open to different views. Thanks, Frank.


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Kim. Sometimes you write beyond your ability and I think this poem was one of them! LOL! it came out in a rush and stayed. Thank you, Kim. Sometimes you have to grow into your poems. William Stafford taught me that. I love him, and not all his work was ‘good’ but so much was memorable. he wrote up until the day he died in 1993. And thank you for noticing that watercolor. I thought it would pair well with the poem because of the theme.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Beverly, unfortunately there is no more to the story. Maybe one more which I will post on OLN. Thank you so much for reading this and your lovely, supportive comment. I tried this morning to comment on your site but all I could get to was your facebook page. Will you send me, please, your url so I can read your last poem? Thanks, again.


  11. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Bjorn. You know what? I am wondering if this is rather a narrative poem? Does narrative poetry also have to be a call and answer? Like Frost? He’s talking to someone who had died, very close to him. So I don’t know, am not that ‘educated’ in the forms…mostly shoot from the hip hoping I don’t shoot myself in the foot! LOL! thank you, Bjorn.


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Hello, Maureen. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    I think this is a narrative… but it’s the kind of narrative where the real story in what isn’t told…


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Paul. Some poems write themselves. I think this poem is beyond my present comprehension. LOL! It’s layered in scope I think, and open to different interpretations. When I started to read William Stafford about 4 years ago (or maybe less) I saw what he was doing: this layered sentiment or something…and how he second guesses himself in the poem he’s writing. There is something poignant and honest in his work, and there is a LOT of it. I have yet to read all of it, and I have three or four of his books. I am so glad you mentioned him, so many poets haven’t a clue as to this marvelous (though now dead) poet. Simple, plainsman, Pacifist, but I believe he served in the Army…can’t remember but he is not as well known amongst poetry groups as he should be. I see a parallel between him and Frost and I go back and forth in reading them. I can’t seem to get to the other major American poets much like Wallace Stevens, Bishop, etc.because I am stoppered up in awe at both of Stafford and Frost. different but there is a river of ‘voice’ that runs through them that is similar. Thank you, Paul for posting this prompt. I will be reading tomorrow…everyone I can.


  15. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Toni. I don’t know what to call it, but it satisfies me emotionally without too much sentimentality. Thank you for reading and your supportive comment. Frankly? I don’t think I really understood this poem. I had to grow into it. That is what happens with new poets! LOL!


  16. whimsygizmo Says:

    There is so much loss in this…and loss brings its own flow, doesn’t it? Different for each of us. Wonderful work here.


  17. paul scribbles Says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I have only recently discovered Stafford and find him to be just as you say. I look forward to reading him more. Any recommendations?


  18. Jane Dougherty Says:

    The ending is very emotional. I think it would be equally powerful even without the last line, it’s so good.


  19. ladynyo Says:

    Oh yeah. Any of his books but you can cut to the chase by getting his anthology….:”The Way It Is”…new and selected poems. From 1960 and earlier to the day he died in 1993. Not every poem is ‘good’ but then again, not every poem we write is good. LOL! One of my favorite books of his, is a small one…”The Darkness Around Us Is Deep”. I would suggest you start with that one. It’s very good, with a lot of emotion, perhaps contained, controlled but then again, perhaps not. He came to haiku for a while: I love this one: “Sioux Haiku”…On a relief map, mountains remind my fingers: “Where Crazy Horse tried.” There is so much in that book, Paul and it is a great place to read an honest and unembellished poet. He reminds me of later Frost. Sometimes, reading him, I cry. He had a troubled relationship with his mother, who was very negative and dominant and so do I. he could do little right and his siblings were always under a collective attack by her. Strong stuff here, but then again…realistic.


  20. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you! Yes, loss brings its own flow. Thank you for reading and your comment.


  21. paul scribbles Says:

    Thanks. I’ll check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. ladynyo Says:

    Yeah, I agree. It’s covert narrative. LOL! It bothered me because I couldn’t place it. It’s not lyrical in another sense, but perhaps it is. Who knows? Thanks, Bjorn.


  23. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Jane. I respect your opinion. I think it’s good to listen to other poets take on your work. It expands the possibilities!


  24. Jane Dougherty Says:

    I don’t feel qualified to pass judgement, but we all have our ideas about what ‘sounds’ good.


  25. ladynyo Says:

    Nope, Jane. LOL! I think the last line completes the ‘visit’. He hasnothing left, except memory. I did wonder if it was too sentimental but I think it has a purpose. But I see what you are saying, Jane, and I thank you for it.


  26. ladynyo Says:

    yep, I agree. I just posted a comment why I thought this last sentence completes the poem, the visit. But I agree that we all have our ideas what sounds good.


  27. Jane Dougherty Says:

    It’s all in the ear of the listener 🙂


  28. Sherry Marr Says:

    A gorgeous poem and oh! those closing lines. Wowzers!


  29. Candy Says:

    Oh my, this is captivating. It was as if i was there with you.


  30. emangarduque Says:

    alike a fear with the stillness and silence of the river. we are just imagining


  31. Rosemary Nissen-Wade Says:

    Hauntingly beautiful.


  32. maria Says:

    That’s a gorgeous painting, Jane! And the your interpretation is equally haunting. I can see a start of a greater story ahead.


  33. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Rosemary.


  34. ladynyo Says:

    Yep, I think your imagination is right! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Candy! What a lovely comment. I think that is what most poets strive for. And miss a lot. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Sherry. yes, I think that closing line brings the poem back to its basis. Obviously someone is dead, and that is why the seasons don’t change there. This poem has been a burr under my saddle with a few of my family. They really didn’t understand it, or they took some stupid offense. And, of course, it had nothing to do with them. Sigh. Thank you, Sherry.


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