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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Hard Winter; To Frame

By: Kate Adams

Hard Winter

In the woodshed, splitting up their winter

wood, he stops a moment, lays the axe

aside. A film of sweat forms on his chin,

drips down. His youngest son comes in and asks

when Mama’s coming home? Oh, not again.

He squats, looks in the eyes he loves. He lacks

the words could reach the boy, one of those men

speaks mainly with his hands. Your mama’s passed

away, he says; your mama’s gone. Those eyes

fill once again with anger, disbelief.

So sorry, son. However hard he tries,

his axe can’t seem to penetrate— A grief

too great, hard winter closing in. He hugs

the boy, last remnant of the grave he’s dug.

To Frame

He lights another cigarette, attacks

the photographs. He’s come up with a plan:

first, dispose of all these damned distracting

duplicates. Jesus, he needs a fan

in here, it’s hot. And then he’ll simply stack

them year by year, progress—from boy to man.

Then, he can look for—jewels in black and white,

that he might want to keep—to frame? His hands

are sweating now. How did she take the heat?

How did she take so many photos, keep

on going, even when the cancer came?

Watch her boy become a man. He sucks

his cigarette. Recalls those nights she’d tuck

him in, quick kiss . . . Ah, that’s a memory to frame.


Kate Adams is a writer living in Mountain View, California.Previous work has appeared in Centennial Review, Zzyzzyva, and the Sand Hill Review. She has won awards from the Massachusetts Artists’ Foundation, in poetry and in fiction. Kate enjoys the technical and artistic challenges of writing in sonnet forms.Poets of influence include Matthew Arnold, Wallace Stevens, and Gjertrude Schnackenberg.

Behind the Scenes:

These two poems are part of a series of vignettes I wrote over the course of the pandemic, seeking images outside of current political or social concerns. The muse was kind enough to allow me to write the way we drive at night: seeing only a few feet ahead. These poems, and their characters—unknown to me before they showed up here—came to me line by line and rhyme by rhyme, strobe-light poems that open and shut in a flash of sight—and insight.


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