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Poetry: "It Was A Cold One Last Night" by Elisabeth Ferrell-Horan


It was a cold one last night.
So cold my sweet blood slowed -
A heartbeat frozen in the forest.
Winter’s lips sucking life from leaves
and fingertips nipped by the frosty dawn,
forced to detach that unspoken bond
of twig, arm and branch.
All of summer’s sugar is packed away:
Pulpy drippings like apples in the press
Drawn like a breath and hovering within;
misty drips slide down silver blades -
That blanket the early morning turkeys
Foraging for sleepy crickets
with sure and sharply honed beaks.
My friends are dying as well from the cold.
An imperceptible shift in the air,
brings on the bloodbath of color -
All along the hillside:
burnt canopies of gold, orange and red.
At times, demise can be so beautiful.
Sumac is first - a dramatic starlet.
Her crimson glitters in the sun;
She’s not as lucid as she seems-
For soon she’ll sleep,
naked and alone.
Her hair wound tightly
in arctic fingertips.
Next goes maple, then aspen;
hop hornbeam then cherry.
Oak always last, beeches too –
holding on for dear life to the noose.
They refuse to give in,
defiant and quaking -
waving to no one
all winter long.
Like little arrowheads;
so thin - like parchment.
Why so afraid of letting go?
Soon you’ll see my figure-
A bald, bark body displayed for your pleasure.
Modesty is not a privilege
in this season of my life.
I have gained weight in middle age,
but my arms are long and lithe;
reaching out in vogue poses -
a forest muse in winter time.
Tonight will be a cold one -
so I’ll show my secret to you:
Find a book to hide me in
I’ll lie patient and still before you.
Between your sheets of waxy paper,
in a silent, empty room.
I remain true art, still life like Seurat's-
quick brush strokes of color
Dapples of myself before you
like pointillism in my eyes.
And my hair's falling out,
set adrift in the rout -
Luxurious piles draped on
haggish, wooden toes.
Weaving itself a quilt of detritus
Run amuck yet intimate
over delicate, deciduous bones.
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