13:1: “The Weight of Winter”, by Michael Matheson

13:1: “The Weight of Winter”, by Michael Matheson

There is a wound here, set deep.
A tether strung between two bodies.
Held taut by faces beneath frozen pools,
veined in blue ice and
hemmed by winter woods.
Their black trunks a loose orrery
of bare branches rising in anemic arc
to claw at the sky;
a starlit weave of portents and assays.

Answers found in the form of the cold ghost
in the cellar, body buried deep.
In photo albums in the attic. Yellowing. Frayed.
In family skeletons scrimshawed
in wormwood ink and mantle-mounted.
In the whistle of wind through cavernous barns.
In the claw-click of owl talons on frozen wood;
of white feathers hunkered on a hayloft ledge,
a mouse caught in tattered halves,
torn twixt beak and claw.
In the whisper of a cat padding down creaking stairs.
And in frigid floors tickling unshod feet.

Answers in the absence of your hand
on my breast. Of your cheek not nestling in after.
The total absence of your heat;
the air still with hoarfrost,
window panes glistening silver-white.

All the small, early morning hauntings
of an empty house.
Of being caught between here and not.
Of fingers pressed against glass.
Of the weight of being unsure
which of us lies buried in the cellar,
and who wanders still.
Of your voice. Echoing in my head.
Like an empty house. Breathing.


Michael Matheson is a writer, editor, and book reviewer based in the urban wilds of Toronto. He also spends his time working as a submissions editor for Apex Magazine and an editor with ChiZine Publications. Sometimes he writes things. Sometimes they sell, including to anthologies like Future Lovecraft, Fractured, Dead North, and Chilling Tales 2. Find out more at michaelmatheson.wordpress.com. He says:

Winter is a fascinating season. At its most generous, burgeoning or waning, the season is exquisitely beautiful, if still potentially deadly. In the fullness of its season–in its most terrifying aspect–winter is a smothering landscape of unspeakable cruelty and vastation. And yet, between those extremes there lies a season possessed of a palpable loneliness; of an unspeakable sadness.

That time of lingering quiet and reflection always strikes me as much like the fallow periods in a relationship. Or what comes after the break. Those moments when you’re not sure where one world begins and the next ends. And nothing quite seems real.

I love trying to capture that feeling in prose. I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever get it quite right. But I keep trying, regardless.
 


Photograph of hoarfrost in Niedersachsen, Germany, by Daniel Schwen, is provided under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.



2 Responses to “13:1: “The Weight of Winter”, by Michael Matheson”

  1. Myles Buchanan says:

    What a lovely poem. Fantastical, but with just enough anchor in reality. And I’m always a sucker for hoarfrost!

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