Winter Fruit

I look out the second-story window of my home and smile at the snow atop bushes, across lawns, streaking rooftops. I am grateful for this Michigan winter, the season I missed most while in Belgium. Normally Belgian winters are mild, much like the coastal-side of the Pacific Northwest, where the grass stays green during the shortest days of the year, where snow infrequently falls and rarely sticks around. So the irony is not lost on me to hear from my partner that Belgium is running out of salt due to this year’s abundant snowfall. His mother recalls that it’s the first time in many, many years since the snow covered her country’s ground for longer than a month.

This morning I’m reflecting upon my Valentine’s weekend, when I joined writers for a winter workshop with Laura Apol at the Leaven Center in Lyons, Michigan. Snow blanketed the warm lodge where we explored “The Sacred in Everyday Life.” In contrast to the pale of candy-coated verse on Hallmark cards, we read robust love poems inspired by the mundane – a cigarette, a town, even pasta. We crafted words into visions of our bodies, savory foods, surprising objects, and more, much more than can be captured in a blog post.

It was my third time attending a Leaven writing workshop, and I again found inspiration at this place along the Grand River. A pair of swans, some distance from but within sight of one another, float on the river’s surface. Between riverbank and high ground, deer tracks form steep lines. Once perched on nearby treetops, a pair of bald eagles glides above the river. It’s no surprise that in nature’s company inspiration abounds and, equally so, in the Leaven lodge – haven, home away from home, safety zone without wifi.

I look forward to drawing upon the wealth of resources shared during the workshop, which no doubt will carry me beyond this second half of Michigan’s winter. It was an honor to learn from poet Laura Apol, as well as my co-participants who gathered from eastern, western, and mid-Michigan. In closing this morning meditation, I am glad to share some of my fruits from the weekend.


    amid a range
    of peaks
    is a dome
    ridged by
    a spine of stone

    this mound
    shields a maze
    of caves
    dark damp

    the soft shell
    warmed by sun
    washed by rain
    kissed by wind
    is the breach
    of earth to sky

    where flesh joins soul
    when birth holds death
    here is riot and rest
    here is home


    we cross paths
    on occasion
    in public where i
    am better behaved
    than at home
    at night
    with no one standing
    between me and
    my desire

    the more effort required
    to transgress
    my better judgment
    the less likely i am
    to feed
    this attraction
    though i take care
    not to starve
    my appetite
    and run the risk
    of its ravages

    so i best keep my distance
    the space is safe
    it is my best defense
    against too much
    pleasure at the cost of
    while indulgence of
    a certain kind is fine
    i best keep you
    beyond fingers’ reach


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