WINTER

A Prose Poem
Creswell, Oregon February 1994

by K. F. Oelke

Copyright

2008

K. F. Oelke

2

Elle rit et dit, C'est la fin du monde. L'atmosphère en flammes, la terre révoltée, la mer en sang.

The sky is covered, dark and low, in shades of gray, flakes of snow, drops of rain. Across the valley spots of white mist here and there in the green tree tops; or a cloud held between two hills. The fields of dirt and grass glisten Trees wild reflecting pale light, as does the road. there are patches of brush, blackberry,

are isolated or in groups, fir, oak, alder, and rose and spindly shrubs. The breathing air is

cool, light and clean, smelling of rain, wet pavement, damp earth and grass, traces of wet or burnt wood. Is it pain or something else as the dream surfaces; the light resembles the darkest day, when the clouds are heavy. I cannot confront 3

the future, and all of history is dead. sky like The a frustrated comes, adventurer spilling standing the

The on

world is being drained of energy; I look to the some ocean's shore. rain from dark clouds, in the morning, the afternoon, or at night, sometimes on the mountainside, or on the other asphalt side of the valley cement in a transparent grass; curtain of grey. streets, Water covers the ground, the sidewalks,

raindrops falling into the puddles; water in the ditches between the road and the fences of old wooden posts and wire. Drops collect on the brown and tan leafless branches of the deciduous trees and shrubs, and run along the stems and fall. It rained all day, all afternoon my body seemed to pull at me with a tension, an élan towards the sky. Like overhead, go away. a a lost dim The island. light rushing Dusk, dark the of a clouds through water leafless swollen

trees. Take memory away, take it away, make it mountain river, icy water and air blend in white spray, black rock, and countless greens of fern, 4

moss and leaf. Overnight snow came down on the surrounding hillsides; the clouds stayed low obfuscating the snowy peaks. One's sight moves up from the valley, first the fields, then the trees on the valley floor, the line of trees on the first hill, another line of trees on the next higher hill, and up in a tier in different shades of dark green. In the quiet it seems like my nerves are screaming. There it is, I see the essence of The trees are dormant, their and yet now, with light, breathe the essence of air, and touch the essence of earth. fluids even slowly like circulating, veins,

their verdant canopies absent, the branches seem more their dark capillaries extending out into the sky. Early morning seems the most inhospitable, an expanse of grey, sometimes of fog; perhaps it is a wakefulness that imparts sensations so acute and sharp; the fields, the grasses and plants traced out of substance. Depression. light; vacant Landscape painted in diffuse desire, emptiness. In the 5

mountains I should walk out into the snow until finally my will and energy desist. Or on the other side, the ocean; on the beach, wind, cold rain, and be very slowly numbed in the blissful churning waves. In the morning I think of the animals in the woods. one layer Life clings so tenaciously to being. or It another rained detached all from the like Often one can see the gray sky gliding overhead, background. glitter. face. time. Upstream, along the road there is a lake; tree covered mountains lift up on each side; across the lake there is a little place that goes down to the water, hardly more than a trail. brush. deep At first look it seems rather desolate, The water is a dull grayish green or turquoise; glass the the of surface slow to seems a like an out smooth ripples; afternoon,

translucent curtains of silver falling in a dull Droplets, mist, spray catching one's Like great sheets descending, scanning

mud, dirt, weeds and dead leaves, bare trees and

imperfect further 6

color

changes

crystalline

silver. a breeze

There is a slight haze in the air, and that moves the narrower branches, Droplets

blackberry leaves and blades of grass. of rain start to fall.

From time to time a

small dark bird flies by, maybe tucks in its wings and shoots like an arrow, or a swimming duck takes flight, its wings swishing over the water. All of this might lead one to wonder if there could and be a rapport like a here, unrequited, anxiety, love, solitary, imagined. Cold desire and grey, dream; of frustration, images lost

rendezvous manqués, and finally, uselessness and despair. In the forest animals grow thin with Wet moss clings to hunger, feverish, and die.

the trees and different mosses cover the ground. Old fallen trees are overgrown, decaying, moist, gradually reabsorbed by the earth. be signs, there perhaps is like in a These might . . delirium. . .

Interpretation sets in like an illness; it seems like structure, is logic. and the senselessness incorporated. Across

valley the mountains rise. detail is lost.

In the distance much

There rivulets cascade down 7

over naked rock. Day after day the sky is completely overcast. Sight is lost in charcoal grey and brilliant white; sometimes a uniform silver grey across the entire expanse. One after another the masses of clouds sweep in from the ocean. On the ground, emerald blades of grass spotted with diamonds. And up above dense smoke colored vapor as far as the eye can see. The cloud layer seems lower and lower, like a heavy grey mist. On the coast a dull white ocean breaks against isolated rocks and cliffs, sending white surf high into the air. From the mountains to the sea descend the rivers, from cascading creeks to slow, wide, murky estuaries. Now they fill up their beds, water climbing up the banks and moving into the brush and trees, passing currents. Then sunlight, became around and through in eddies and It almost seems sad the way it all today weak, the as sky though more cleared; filtered, dense; in the too

washes away. colors

more

intense,

perhaps

much really because the eye seems to shy away. 8

In

this

light

perhaps

when

one

does

break

through it all seems more real. the essence of futility.

Perhaps that is

The sun warmed and the

wind was cold. The sun continued a few more days; the light seems to bring out detail but maybe almost it takes away subtleness, But in sweeps the the shaded detail away. insupportable. In the open the glare is forest,

following the trail along the river, the light is something else, in narrow beams, bands and streaks, spotting the foliage and ground, vague mirrors quiet. reflecting white liquid off into the The pale virtually tangible beams pass In places on the ground there And

around the trees and branches and through the hanging moss. were little purple flowers about to open.

along the road, distant, perhaps bare branches were tipped in green, or perhaps it was a play of light. At the end of the afternoon, as the sun was lowering in the west, the wall of cloud came in from the same direction, crossed to the other horizon and closed off the sky. The rains come back again, and the realness, with a sort of 9

desperation. harmonious.

Picture

an

old

isolated

wooden

house, weathered, in the rain, it seems somehow But now there are buds on the trees and some are already starting to open, and there are a few trees and with each white time blossoms. The The dead sun of returns warmer.

winter has passed.

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