It will soon be Winter Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, so perhaps this would be a good time to share a winter story from my soon-to-be released ebook, Eating Mythos Soup: poemstories for Laura. Let me know what you think.
I am old and the wintertime cold has seeped into my bones. I am the deserted child of an ancient wrinkled gardener.
My father moves slowly because he is older than the dirt he loves so well. He is tall and thin with black cracked skin, and his arms, ropy veined and polished like ebony, stick out of his too-small coat. He is burdened with a hoe and a rake and a shovel, and all the tools he needs to keep his garden alive.
His coat, olive green with patched pockets, flaps around his ankles, and he wears mismatched tennis shoes with no laces. Under his coat he wears a faded orange flannel shirt, and torn loose jeans. His eyes seem to be lost in the million crinkles on his face, but sometimes, as on a dark cloudy night when the wind blows, they like stars twinkle briefly between the shifting clouds.
My father is the wintertime gardener and it is his job to cover the seeds and blanket the bushes and roots with mulch. He ties berries on the bare tree branches for the foolish birds who forgot to migrate. He is cold and lonely, moving like a shadow between the leafless branches of the garden.
But his dreams, ah his dreams are warm and moist. When he breathes his dreams upon the ground, extravagant and beautiful fungi appear. They thrust suddenly out of the cold rotting compost and their convoluted lobes flame in vivid scarlet and orange and blue.
He dreams of me. I am one of the fungi, a small delicate one with feathery blue veins on my pointy cap and buttery yellow splotches on my slender stalk. My father is sorry he left me so long ago, but still he knows I will be able to forgive him from the depths of my own winter.
The sun hangs over the thick black hills and the smoke from distant bonfires drifts lazily across the leaden sky. The trees in the garden are silent; their tongues are buried under their fallen leaves.
My father the gardener takes off his tennis shoes, and places his long narrow feet carefully on the cold packed ground. His feet look like short planks of dark rotted wood. He wriggles his toes into the hard earth, digging with his horny toenails that are almost as dark as his skin.
He sings a mumbling song and dances a thin spiky dance upon the earth. Soon his mumble grows into a gospel song, but instead of Jesus, he shouts my name. He wakes his rake and his hoe high in the air, stretching his arms out to their longest length, and he thrusts them, up down, in rhythm to his song. His dance sways and shakes and his hard pounding old feet high-step their way around the garden, and the winter flowers bloom.
Eating Mythos Soup: poemstories for Laura will be available as an ebook early next year. Stay tuned.