Holly Brightweed and her willing beau
unspeaking wandered on the shaggy ridge
that topped her father’s strip of land,
grown grim like tooth-torn cartilage
of a dog’s grey gnawed-down bone.
Feathered weeds, mostly dead,
were mashed and crashed through hollow and head –
all neutral, brown, or sickly green.
Holly said that this was the scene
she found the saddest all year round.
“Spring was mother-mud until
a green mist rose up from the dale
and crept of a morning up this hill.
Green and golden days swung by
all the glancing, dancing summer.
In early fall we chased winged creatures
turned to flightlight, you remember –
everything glowed more to gold.
Now this.” She stopped and crushed
a withered leaf. They both stood still
to hear the land. The air was hushed,
harvest over, few birds left,
insects dead. “Winter’s near,”
she mourned. “The wide world seems to wait.”
Richard Healing thought her voice held fear.
He said, “But Winter’s fair.” Richard’s speech
was cheerful, even musical, like wind:
“Something in you loves the cold and white.”
Holly winced as though he sinned.
“Cold is fire inside-out,
it eats my shuddering hands and toes.
Snow’s a jail that keeps me locked
inside to blow my ruddy nose!
And white – it’s lovely, I suppose,
but makes me ponder emptiness –
empty house, empty sky,
empty rooms that throb inside.” “I bless,”
rejoined the man, “whatever made and kept
Holly Brightweed wintry-white in soul.
Will you wear white for me one day this yule?
In Winter’s color, take back what she stole?”
Halfway down the shaggy ridge they stood.
Holly Brightweed turned and looked at him,
and guessed the versey riddle. Down they came
against the autumn breeze – the light fell dim,
the wind picked up, the silent trudging pair
thought of hallow Winter that was near.
They glimpsed aloft a tiny shiny moon;
They stopped, clasped hands, and called each other ‘dear’.
In the house where Holly and Richard live
a yellow kitchen cheers a hall of brown,
the study gently muses green,
the parlor lamp glows red, where folks sit down.
The wind it stirs a fluted gown of white
where, in a soft-hued room, they share the night.