Poem for Saturday: A Little Thaw

A Little Thaw

The silence of ice
hard-smooth glaringly mocking
a manufactured perfection
life, birth, spring
held captive in plain view
under a solid clear glaze
pale world strangely hushed
I tiptoe through
afraid to break the surface with my sound
but a snap, a crack, a drip, another
whispers return to life around me
once broken, the ice cannot hold its captives
dripping, pattering, babbling
life begins again
the stream torrent rushing
beneath the clear, fragile, broken cage of its captor.

poem copyright 2011 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski


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Poem for Saturday: The Last Red Berries

The ast Red Berries

What gentle lesson I learn from this nightshade,
unwanted in its habitat, its toxins legendary,
growing as it is from a crack in the pavement
no other greenery but itself for comfort,
facing unprotected the wind and cold and precipitation
splashed with road salt and motor oil and antifreeze,
yet gracefully spreading tangled limbs against the snow and
offering its berries to birds,
who tolerate its poison and disperse its seeds,
one of the last food sources available
after a long winter,
and patiently waiting for spring.

Surely in all this, all have our place in the story.

poem copyright 2010 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

The ground still covered with a foot of snow, the streets with ice, in March, I would have thought anything edible had already been eaten. I walked my errands to Main Street especially then because the streets were crowded with piles of snow, and no parking spaces were available.

But as the snow melted there emerged bright red berries, plump and shiny, held over from last autumn. I took an eyeful of those berries, and many photos, so inspired by their tenacity, thinking of how nightshade is usually ripped out yet here would likely save the lives of a few backyard birds because it had been missed. It waited with dignity to fulfill its role.


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Poem for Saturday: Snow in the Cemetery

Snow in the Cemetery

How many snowfalls have gently covered this ground,
How many summer sunsets flared against the rock of this cliff,
How many feet have trod this sacred spot, human and animal alike,
Stood on this outcropping as I do today
feeling history beneath my feet
in the remains of recent generations
and from the millennia.

The land, carved by the wiles of nature through the past,
stretches out before me, opening
into the hills and valleys of the future
and I wonder,
have all the watchers felt the same exhilaration
at the potential of the unknown
and, so moved, place their beloveds’ remains in this high cliff
so that they could still watch eternity unfold
beneath a comforting blanket of snow?

poem Snow in the Cemetery ©2011 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

How many snowfalls have blanketed this site in Carnegie, white flakes silently falling all around and filling the valley seen from this cliff?

Currently, it’s Ross Colonial Cemetery, named so for the Ross family of settlers around the time of the Revolutionary War and it contains graves and headstones that date from that time as well as more recent ones.

But the site has been a lookout for millennia. One can stand on the cliff’s edge and see most of the valley containing Carnegie and the oxbow of Chartiers Creek as it enters and leaves town. My mother told me her brothers and others found Native American artifacts in this area.

Standing there in any weather, I can feel the history beneath my feet, the land unchanged by time, holding the memories of all the watchers, like me, looking off into the distance of the valley and of history.


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Pussy Willow in the Snow

Pussy Willow in the Snow

Imagine the pussy willow flower,
a soft white catkin bursting open its
hard, protective shell
swelling into a furry powderpuff
sprouting yellow pollen fronds
attracting the season’s first buzzing bees.

They’ll do this sometimes
during a one-day thaw
so eager are they for life,
ignoring ice and snow still hanging on their shells
and temperatures too low to sustain life,
breaking open their carapace
to the warm caress of winter sun
yet they’ll survive through later storms
for the real life-giving sun of spring.

Who would think such a tiny, soft flower
would have the strength to break apart its hard shell
and then survive in such inhospitable conditions?

Enjoy the respite in the storm
keep protected from the elements
but not so well protected
that you miss the rare winter sun
caressing your face.

Poem, Pussy Willow in the Snow by Bernadette E. Kazmarski © 2011, may not be reproduced in any way without express written permission of the author. Links to this page are fine.


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A Winter Sunset

A Winter Sunset

Soft colorful sky
soaring, trees black rough earth
bound; winter sunset.

Poem, Haiku, A Winter Sunset by Bernadette E. Kazmarski © 2013,  may not be reproduced in any way without express written permission of the author. Links to this page are fine.

My Garden Waits Under a Blanket of Spring

My Garden Waits Under a Blanket of Spring

My garden waits under a blanket of spring
gently rippled snow comforting the earth
drowsing buds protected undercover
will burst and pour forth
hot, humid mornings, big yellow spiders, baskets of green beans
this heavy cover now protects, will melt and nourish.

poem © 2010 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

When I look at my garden, surprised at all its hillocks and gulleys remembered full of life and covered so deeply and densely with growing things, I wonder how the miracle ever happens again that I have baskets of beans and tomatoes just a few months later when all seems frozen and gone. It’s really not. As one of those ironies of nature where unrelated processes fit together like a puzzle to make a whole ecosystem, it’s the icy blanket of snow that would seem to smother and freeze and end the potential that actually keeps the spark of life warm.


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Snow at Night

Alley in Dusk, 8 x 10, acrylic © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I check under the streetlight whenever I pass the window,
the still night scene like a Hopper painting, tranquil and perfect,
or the set on a stage, ready for the players, the houselights dim.
I anticipate the first action of the play,
and I grow impatient—
the stillness, the leaden sky as the afternoon aged
weighted with promise,
the early darkness,
then suddenly a bit of movement under the arc of the streetlight,
I hold my breath and still myself—was that it?
then a pause, then again, at an angle, a bit of ash gently drifting,
and another, then two at once,
then five,
then too many to count, meandering,
all in the same direction,
appear in the streetlight’s cone of illumination, then disappear.
I am transfixed
as the flakes simply continue as if without agenda,
my neighbors’ windows are all covered,
lights and flickering TVs behind curtains and blinds,
I am the only one who has witnessed the beginning.

poem Snow at Night ©2006 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I don’t know about you, but I’m waiting for that first snowfall, quietly appearing as if by magic under the streetlight.

I read this poem at my recent poetry reading “Walking Around” as one of the experiences we share in a small town.

The painting in this post, “Alley at Night”, is available as a print from Portraits of Animals.


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Poem: Angelic Morning

Angel Wings
Angel Wings
Angelic Morning

So much is wrong
So much is sad
So much cannot be fixed
The detritus of the past lies all about
But I find also diaphanous angel wings filled with eternal sunshine
Bright smiling eyes of faerie flowers
Reflecting the tranquil blue of the sky’s protective arch
The old daffodil has stories to tell
And joy appears in the most common of things
Beauty, good, exist in every moment
Like the stars in daylight
Always shining
But only seen in the darkest hour.

poem “Angelic Morning” © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Winter is finally is beginning to give over to spring after a few false starts, and I am finding flowers in my yard. We all walk through difficult times and feel as if spring as a metaphor for relief, healing, rest, or morning after a long night will never come, but it does because in fact is always there hidden by what we expect to see. Sometimes all we need to do is look around us, and there it is.

The words came to me inspired by the beauty in a humble spring morning in 2015. At that time this was a poem in progress, but now it’s graduated to a finished poem. Below is a slideshow of other photos that inspired these words.

Please feel free to download and share this graphic I made for social networking.

Read other poems and poems in progress.


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Poem: To Come Again in Spring

Tiny Spider

In this sepia scene
of late-winter twigs and matted leaves
I found the small tattered orb she had built that lasted the winter,
this tiny creature no larger than a grain of sand
now curled in the center, her spirit long
gone
from her desiccated body,
yet her tiny children,
awakened by a warming spring sun,
will emerge from all the crevices
in the plant she chose as their birthplace
and find that her final creation
helps provide their first meal,
delicate strands catch the earliest gnats,
though these too be
the children of other mothers
full of hope for the generation of children
they will never meet;

and so the returning songbirds will catch
the tiny spiders as they leave their web of safety
and find sustenance to begin their families
all life toiling through the year to grow and thrive
to prepare for the dark of winter
and to come, again, in spring.

Poem To Come Again in Spring © 2011 B.E. Kazmarski

As the spring unfolds with longer days and milder temperatures, we remember what has passed.

It was the tiny spider in the delicate, worn web that inspired this slideshow from 2009 and poem from 2011.

Each year I leave the plants in my garden standing for the birds, insects and other residents of my garden to use for winter accommodations. In spring of 2009 I began preparing the garden section by section and happened to see this spider and her delicate web outlined in the spring sunshine. She had died long before but continued to cling there all winter long, and her web held up against any number of storms.

Her eggs would have been laid on the stem adjacent to her web which would catch the first insects in spring, and when they hatched the little spiders could have their first meal of the insects caught in the web and use her web as a launching pad. I found it so moving that on that bright early March afternoon I went through my garden looking for other such images.

All the other native plants had left behind their skeletons, and the effect of these was haunting, like finding a ghost town or an unknown world.

I had to let them say their last goodbye. I photographed each desolate construction with attention to extreme details you might never notice to show the intrinsic, transient beauty of these empty shells. The sepia tones are the natural coloring of the plants in the stark spring sunlight, that interim color palette between the blues of winter and the greens of spring. Here is a link  to the original slideshow of photos taken that day; when you view it, you’ll see that many of the plants I’ve photographed are criss-crossed with tattered little webs.

I read this poem at my 2011 poetry reading at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, but did not set up a web page for that reading, and it is not included in my poetry book.

In 2017 I found another inspiration in these “Winter Leftovers”: What Stays With Us.


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Poem in Progress: Rising Up to Meet You

Rising Up to Meet You
Rising Up to Meet You
Rising Up to Meet You

Still,
in midwinter,
I will rise to meet you
though my stem be bent and brittle
for where we touch
there will be spring.

poem copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Just a draft of verse in contemplation of this weathered wildflower which blooms so fiery red in summer.

Or…

What strange sun is this
found in tatters of winter
holding memories of summer.

poem copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I like them both. Who says I can’t find two inspirations in one moment? So I have two new poems.

It’s an empty seed cluster from monarda, or bee balm, just happened to be touched by late afternoon sun while the snow beneath it was in shadow, its bent stem a blur beneath it. This is what it looks like in summer.

Bee Balm with Bee
Bee Balm with Bee

You can find these poems, together for the moment, in my Poetry Archive.

I also designed a graphic to share on social media. Feel free to download and share.


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