2006 by Ellin Anderson


Ellin Anderson

The first hard frost has come and gone:
It made quicksilver of the lawn,
And left bright grains in feathered grass,
And plumes on icy window-glass.

They sparkle for the glacier eye:
Cold as the flow that moves on high
And shows us, as it breaks apart,
The green within its restless heart.

Now that the summer stars have set,
The snowy veil drops like a net
Upon the milkweed, dry and tall,
That worked to ripen, and to fall.

But starry secrets find their birth,
Drift on the wind, and come to earth:
A chain of blossoms, where they sink
To bless the soil, and rise in pink.

The sky alone is evergreen:
A diamond Spindle for a queen
Adorns the spinner, not too proud
To dress the heavens, cloud by cloud;

And those who labor in the cold
May bind their dreams of love or gold
Upon the Wagon, for a span
Of passage with the hooded man.

Low in the east, the idle Plough,
The servant of the Fire-Sow,
Has lost its bondsmen to the Throng,
Boar-helmets and the battle-song;

While masters of a westbound sail
Who fix ambition on the Nail
And pilot by that silver spear,
Will never fail, and never fear.

That was the face of heavens past:
A chart to trace the things that last,
Marked out in rings of fire, not ice;
Yet snow partitions Paradise!

Or just this little edge of it;
Black mesh of trees where white stars sit
Beneath a crescent moon, grown dim
As if the Wolf-Jaws worried him.

He soars above the silver beck,
To wax knife-bright again, and deck
With carven shadows, blue and mild,
The fair ones' tooth-gift to a child,

The province of the Summer King,
Locked tight in sleep until the Spring
Unbinds her hero, to enjoy
A citadel far north of Troy.

And in our game of hide and seek,
My fingers touch a warm, rough cheek,
And then a mouth, as sweet as this
White snow upon the yews, to kiss.

The strong March sun, beyond the firs,
Might glow like this young god of hers,
And bare trees that his arms enfold
Embrace the wait, embrace the cold.

In shallows where the water sings
As softly as a raven's wings,
The waning moon is swept away;
Another face reflects the day,

And in the wake of golden light,
The fiery curtain fills the night
Where shining needles freeze and scald
With scarlet, white, and emerald.

They flicker as their lord commands
Embroidered glory for the land's
Midwinter harvest yet to thresh;
It is my dress, it is my flesh,

And marks dominion over sense
As static as that wire fence,
With all the dreamers it can snare
Left bleeding and suspended there.


Ellin Anderson

At midnight in the month of May,
The little tree-frog sings away:
A minstrel trilling for his life
To kill my sleep, and get a wife.
The lady-frogs have left the lawn,
And so, until the blush of dawn
Touches the stone nymph by the pool,
She is his idol, cold and cruel.

The arborvitae down below
My window holds this Romeo,
Surpassing bold, to think that he
Should climb to heaven on a tree.
Midsummer comes, and he is still,
Either to starve, or have his fill,
For silence is the daily bread
Of both the happy and the dead.

In pools and marshes, singers all
Are mute when Summer turns to Fall,
And in the face of Winter's blast,
My fancy chases Yuletides past.
Now, with a length of garden wire,
I bind the green tree's triple spire
So that it points to suns afar,
And crown it with a golden star.

Asmodeus and Beelzebub
Will shriek to see my little shrub
In lights and beads and tinsel dressed,
Just as they wailed to see the best
Of heroes on the holy tree,
Dead — to awaken gloriously,
Like heroes not so long ago,
Fallen in fields of virgin snow.

Axis of the living earth,
Promise of the Sun's rebirth,
Bravely decked in red and gold
Like a soldier in the cold!
Sing Laudate Domino,
Qui estis in convivio

As it glitters through the storm,
My Christmas tree will keep me warm
In dead of Winter, promising
That I'll chirp through another Spring.


2006 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved. No part of  this work may be copied or used in any way without written  permission from the author.


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We Who Refuse to Die
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The Stray Cat
Ellin Anderson's Biography