The Winter Rehearsals

by Jane O. Wayne


Monday and the kind of cold outside
that darkens needles
on the evergreens,
makes blood sluggish in its veins.
A chill spreads through
the house, through the thickest
woolen sweater until it finds
the weak spot between
the shoulder blades
and lodges there. Off and on
around the loose window-frames,
the wind howls—a whining
music as when a child once dragged
a finger on a vinyl record.
Here locked inside winter, the dark
steals hours from
the day, closes doors on
what is possible. From upstairs,
we hear the refrigerator
changing cycles, humming
cold to colder. In the dry air,
we grow brittle
as corn stalks left in the fields,
waiting it out—
this barren stretch, this warning.
At bedtime, we yield
to the lesser darkness
of a shirt pulled over our heads.

JANE O. WAYNE’S work has appeared in Poetry, The Iowa Review, Ploughshares, The American Scholar, The Journal, The Cincinnati Review, The Massachusetts Review, Poetry Northwest, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Verse Daily and elsewhere. Her books include Looking Both Ways, which received the Devins Award for Poetry, and A Strange Heartwhich received the Marianne Moore Prize and the Society of Midland Authors Award, and From the Night Album (Pecan Grove) and The Other Place You Live (Mayapple Press).