“Conversations With Death: Midnight”

I last spoke with Death at Midnight.
There was no moon to light his way
only starlight
and the dim glow of a single fading streetlamp.
I felt the room grow cold as he walked in
all swagger and confidence
his hood drawn up to shadow his face.
He paused at the end of my bed
and looked at me
and once more he smiled.
You are not yet ready for me.
My words startled him and he cocked his head
peering into the darkness.
What do you mean? asked Death
wringing his hands uneasily.
I paused
long enough to let him wonder
how it could be
that I continue to resist him.
Then I smiled, and pointed to the open window
to the starlit sky
framed by the branches of winter-barren trees.
He followed my gaze and frowned
before turning back to question me.
What does the sky have to do with it?
I sat up then
set my feet on the floor
and I walked to stand before him.
I replied, passing by him to stand before the window.
Death visited me again
but I refused to go with him
preferring to live.
And I knew he understood.

“To Brighid”

Mother of the warming sun,
Protector of the Hearth,
Keeper of Awen,
I honor you.

As the wheel turns never-ending
and brings with it longer days filled with the sun’s life-giving warmth,
I thank you for your presence in my life.

My hearth is blessed by your presence, Bright Lady,
and I prepare it anew for your protection.

I celebrate the return of the sun, the warmth and joy of Spring,
bringing your light into my home.

I see and feel the presence of Awen in my life,
and ask for the continued fire of inspiration.

Mother of the warming sun,
Protector of the Hearth,
Keeper of Awen,
I honor you.

Winter Watch: One

Waves crashed ceaselessly against the shore, the repetitive rhythm slowly rousing Malinda from her dreams. She sighs, and reached beside her in the bed, fumbling for the glasses she knew she’d left there. It took a minute, but she soon found them and placed them on her face, blinking before she looked to the amber numbers on her alarm clock.

Six fifty-three.

It was always six fifty-three when she woke up and looked at the clock. Every morning, the same time.

She sighed, and threw back the covers, hissing in a breath from the early-morning chill, and grabbing for her robe where it hung on the headboard. Slipping her feet into slippers and pulling on her robe, she pulled back her hair and twisted it up with an elastic before shuffling down the hall.


A dozing grey tabby skittered out of the way with an annoyed sound.

“Oh, Ezzie, you know I’m not gonna step on you. Hush now.”

Malinda chuckled and moved through the house into the kitchen, smiling as she filled the teakettle and set it on the stove to heat. Her attention strayed to the window, where she could see through the wavy glass panes that the cardinals were already at the feeders, feasting on the bounty she’d left for them. As the teakettle whistled she was roused from her thoughts, and turned to pour steaming water over a fragrant teabag, letting it sit on the counter.

“What should we have for breakfast, Ezzie?” she asked the feline winding around her ankles.

Esmerelda just sat, curled her tail around her front paws, and meowed again.

Malinda chuckled and leaned down to run her fingers over the cat’s head and down her back. “You’re no help at all.” she said with a smile.

Outside, fat snowflakes began to flutter against the windowpanes of the old farmhouse, and the sight made Malinda pause a moment, and smile. She moved towards the window again and pressed one hand to the glass, grinning. “Looks like we’re going to be stuck inside for a while. Good thing I stocked up, hmm?” Taking her tea then, she made her way to the sunken living room, where she flipped on the radio to hear the local newsperson talking about the blizzard.

“They talk like it’s a surprise.” she said, looking to the grey tabby with a grin.

As she heard the wind start whistling in the eaves she shivered. “I’d best get a fire going, or it’s going to be one cold day.” she said, and set to the task she’d done so many times. As the kindling caught she waited, letting it blaze a moment before she set three logs atop the flames. Before long a warming fire burned in the fireplace, and she placed the screen in front to keep the embers from setting fire to her grandmother’s braided rug.

The radio droned on about being safe in the storm, and Malinda shook her head, heading to the couch with her mug. She pulled an old quilt over her legs and snuggled into the cushions. Outside the window she could see the storm was gaining strength. She reached in the basket beside her, and pulled out a half-finished shawl, the intricate lace pattern lost in the bunched up stitches, but she knew it would be worth it in the end.

Eventually the morning news led to the random playlist of soft ‘adult contemporary’ music her favorite station played, and she continued wrapping the yarn rhythmically over the needles, occasionally lifting her mug to take a sip of the warm tea. The fire crackled and popped and hissed, the sound as comforting as a lullabye for Malinda, and she curled up in the plush pillows of her old couch, setting down her knitting and letting her eyes drift closed. ‘Just a short nap’ she told herself as Esmerelda curled up on her chest, and before long, she was soundly dozing.

* * ~ * * ~ * *

Outside, the snow continued to pile up. It was up to the bottom step by the time Malinda started to doze off, and when she roused again, it had reached the bottom of her windows. She shivered, then laughed as her stomach loudly protested the fact that she’d never managed to make breakfast. “Ezzie, why’d you let me fall asleep?” she asked of the purring feline, gently shifting her off her chest. She pushed to her feet and shuffled back into the kitchen. “I’ll just make some eggs and bacon, hmm?” Esmerelda meowed from the living room, where she’d curled up in the warm spot left where Malinda’d been sleeping.

A noise at the back door didn’t get her attention at first, the sizzle of beaten eggs in the old cast iron skillet taking most of her attention. When it was repeated a second, then a third time however she turned and looked at the mud room. “What on earth could that be?”

“Embracing Winter’s Magic”

Christmas 2011. My house.

Christmas 2011. My house.

December sneaks into the year
lost in the shuffle
of Black Friday
of Small Business Saturday
of Cyber Monday
and all the hoopla that follows.

December comes without warning
and I’m not yet ready
to think of tinsel
of glittering ornaments
and sparkling lights
of ribbons and bows and wrapping.

December settles in
and I’m waiting for the snow
which used to herald
winter’s arrival
and prepared me for the season
but it hasn’t come.

December won’t wait for me
to catch on
to catch up
to be ready for the holidays
and so I haul out boxes
put up lights and garland
ornaments on trees, candles in windows
and begin to play winter carols.

December smiles
as my heart opens
illuminated by each sparkling light
each flickering candle
my soul swaddled by familiar strains
surrounding me in holiday cheer.

December always comes
and finds me a Grinch
a sad, solemn Scrooge
who has forgotten the magic I perpetually seek
but it only takes a ritual
enacted each year
to reclaim the twinkle and sparkle
to renew my soul and my heart
embracing Winter’s magic.

More or less inspired by the prompt at Poets United, which asks us to write about a Scrooge. Most years, I start out the season a bit of a Scrooge, but I always find the magic again.

“Punk-Rock Llama in Winter”

Doll created by Junsung Lee

a punk-rock llama lives in a black and white world
he doesn’t know the slowly changing paints of autumn
or the sweet, soft wash of spring flowers and new leaves
or even the bright, hot glow of a summer’s day
he only knows winter
stark and colorless
black trees painted with white snow
but even winter’s barren landscape reveals life
cream-hued creatures hidden in the snow
but not to the punk-rock llama

Written as a response to With Real Toads’ Sunday Mini-Challenge, which gave us images of dolls created by schoolchildren from which to base our writing.

“Feathers and Root Cellars”

Photo is my own, taken at the Riverwalk in Rock Hill, November 2012

I watch
these mornings as I trek through the forest
as Nature’s creatures make preparations
for the coming cold.
I always take a moment to watch
to smile and wonder
what their busy work means.
old wives’ tales
herald a harsh winter when birds
and rodents
spend months gathering nuts and berries
preparing a root-cellar of supplies
so I too begin to feather my nest
airing thick blankets
and sweaters and heavy socks
knitting warm hats and mittens and scarves
that I wear to keep warm
as I make the trek out to the forest
and watch the creatures of Nature prepare
for a long, cold winter.

Written to answer the challenge at d’Verse, which asks us to look at the ways in which we prepare for things to come; in this case, preparing for a cold, snowy Winter.

“Rhythm of Nature”

Image I wish I'd taken, by Kenia Cris.

Image I wish I’d taken, by Kenia Cris.

New growth is blooming
shrugging off the quiet chill
opening eyes to brighter mornings
and warmer nights.

Soon comes the heat
air moist with every breath
deep groans of thunder
punctuate the night.

Moon’s arrival earlier each dusk
heralds brisk nights
and staunch guardians
shedding their colors everywhere.

A quiet chill returns swiftly and softly
blanketing both day and night
offering no respite
only the promise of renewal.

Written in a vague approximation of the Midnight Songs style, from Sunday’s Mini-Challenge prompt at With Real Toads.