“Withered Fields”

Withered Fields

Winter brings withered fields,

Hoar-frost covers stalks of grain,

And leaves a brittle hollow

Leached of color to a pale dun

A shade of nothingness,

Now snapped and dried twigs

Just to be called stubble,


Pale, thin air conspires in this withering

To starve the landscape surrounding,

A drawing of air not enough for life,

Too shallow for lungs, just a whistling down

brittle tubes of grain,

The ghostly sound of pipes,

A frozen Pan of the fields.

The north wind a

Howling scream, sweeping

The land before it

And only those far under ground

Are spared its crippling caress.

This withering of landscape

reflects within.

Age, infirmities,  bring the cold inside

Where no amount of warm fire, wool,

Feet propped against a blazing fire

Can stem the ravages of what

Is happening outside

As it swirls under doors and through

Shut and shuttered windows.

Hands grow thin and clawed

Bones reluctant of movement,

Skin dry , itching —

A monk’s hair shirt

A penitence unbidden

But ours for the sin of growing old.

There is little to do

But crawl to the fire,

Wrap ourselves in solitude

And hope these withered fields

Will obey the cycle of seasons

And fertility reclaimed with patience.

Jane Kohut-Bartels


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