They say another storm will come tonight
another layer of white
another weight of wet
clamped tight and cold over all hope
of softening bulbs or green tongues testing
toward springlight.

Out there, pale marmoreal camels rest
lie low in wait
legs lost to sight
hump after hump of patience ruminates
in silent readiness for its next burdening
this arctic night.

How much is needed to drive mad
the weary watcher of another and another
dreary iteration of
unwilling hibernation
dragging the caravan across this blank
expanse of desolation?

They say a single straw is all it takes
a final straw added to overbearing weight
in deserts of hot sand.
Tonight on frozen land
I watch the camels, hoping something breaks.
I want the final flake.

69 responses »

  1. Oh, Cynthia! It is exquisite to hear you read your poems and in this one, voice is everything. Thank you for this marvelous expression of what it must be like for all of you! My heart is with you! We are at the end of the first week of what you have had months of…..may the final flake come soon!

    • Hi Julie
      Let’s hope your first week of it in Cinti is also your last for this season. I’ m wondering where all this will go if it melts too quickly. Is there a Noah in the house? Thank you so much for reading, and your complimentary words.

  2. There’s s rare quality of song in your poems that remind me of witty masters like Cole Porter and even Dorothy Parker. Cynthia’s Song Book! Charm raised to the sublime. And there’s always a sense of the veil being drawn over the abyss– for which thanks!

  3. I wish I could grasp that other people really have these ideas come into their minds … I can’t. None come into mine. What is speaking here is pure jealousy, of course, Cynthia: your poetry gives me joy EVERY SINGLE TIME I read it.

  4. Superb analogy between the freezing weather ,the snow and the hot blazing deserts and the sand .sand and snow,it only takes one straw to break the camels back patience and will.Jalal

  5. What a brilliant analogy. You are such a great observer Cynthia and that, combined with your brilliantly creative mind, is what produces masterpieces such as this. And this one is an absolute stunner!

    We have not had snow like his in years. I can hardly imagine it, although I can imagine the weariness of ‘enough isnough’.

  6. Such a vivid image, Cynthia, and you elaborate on it wonderfully. I see readers can interpret the closing line if different ways β€” that’s an additional strength of the poem. On my interpretation, I hope that final flake is a darned long time coming.

    • I see what you mean, and I like what you say, John. Thank you.

      Did you know there is actually a Desert of Maine? Maybe with all the predictions of global warming, there could be some future enterprise involving actual camels there–the hot sand kind—but at the moment, hades is freezing over and the camels, only memorial. πŸ™‚

  7. It is interesting how a snowy landscape can also be a desert, and in this poem you’ve really brought the two together with such a strong final image. Perhaps I will one day see a camel on a hot desert and think of this poem and wish for snow : )

    • Just as you “looked up” vultures, I did a little reading about camels, and there actually are some varieties that tolerate ice and snow, on Mongolian tundra. But you are right; come summer and the possible heat and humidity, I might wish for my snowy camels once again! Thanks, Anna.

  8. Cynthia you bring magic to the cold, blue days of winter – the longing of white flakes to melt and bring the sun’s warmth back to your Maine days. I so hear it in your beautiful words. We too will join you in your winter ways, as an ice storm has descended upon us for the next 48 hours (40 degrees colder than normal w/the high tomorrow 29). Thank you for such a beautiful way to say hello to a new week.

  9. Outstanding … and I like the way you use analogies. Sure there’s the desserts of sand and snow, but when you mentioned the straw & the camel’s back, I thought about the snow’s weight on a roof.

    • Funny you should bring that up, Frank. The roofs are a real worry in winters like this. Last winter I moved to where I am now, and left all the unpacked boxes containing what was once my art studio in a large sunroom off the garage that I intended to use as a studio here. One day in February I noticed it was pouring rain in that room and flooding…..bad roof, heavy snow, ice jams. Long story short: books, papers, years of artwork ruined. Come summer, I had a new roof installed….but now I certainly know about that camel’s back!

        • No, but that’s what’s fun about poetry—different readers think of different things. My first thoughts for poems are often based in language itself…and it’s associations. I might look out the window seeing mounds of snow that remind me of how camels rest on their folded legs, which leads to “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, which taps into the despondent feeling when I hear we’re getting another storm…etc.. I didn’t think of all possible associations and meanings, but they are there, for others to see…like you and the roofs! That’s what I love about intense work with language….it belongs to us all.

  10. I can feel and totally identify with your frustration Cynthia! Snow is pretty, magical from a distance, but living with it if you’re not used to it most of the time is quite a different thing – not so fun after all. 😦

    We don’t get very deep snow where I am, often an annoying 1inch covering that causes all the cars in a small city like mine to become gridlocked, and it takes four hours at a snails pace to do a trip that would normally take twenty five minutes – madness! I do remember about four years ago we did finally get a few feet of deep snow for over a week (several fallings). Everyone was well warned it was coming and instead of the wind changing direction (which it often does) it actually came exactly as they forecast. I was well stocked and prepared to sit it out, as I hate walking in snow. I found it a bit scary actually, waking up every morning and hearing that dull dead quiet, muffled sound of an occasional four wheel drive car trundling by (it’s usually a very busy road I live on). And one morning I got a bit tearful as I remembered how much I used to adore snow as a child. I use to pray for it to arrive – it was magical stuff to me. I wondered, how did I learn to hate what I used to love? I think fear is often the answer. We fear a lot when we are little but they are often nonsense fears, but as we grow we fear so much more and it changes everything.

    May the final flake arrive tomorrow, so you can be absolutely free of that freeze Cynthia! πŸ™‚

    • Here in the mountainous part of Maine, everyone is used to the snow. I grew up here and used to love winter because it meant skiing. In secondary school I was on the women’s ski team, and that was great because we often got out of regular classes to travel to various places and compete in downhill and slalom races with teams from other schools. But then I moved to the city of Boston and became a wimp. Now, after fifty years away, I’m back in the mountains but….as an older person with serious joint-pain, unable to enjoy all this winter. I have to hibernate like an old bear, and growl at the snow.
      Thank you for your good wishes….eventually light and warmth will return, I am sure. πŸ™‚

    • Ha,ha, LΓ©a….murder by poetry! Don’t I wish I could just press a button and be walking on the beach at Port-la-Nouvelle and joining you in that seafood and wine I just enjoyed seeing on your site!

  11. Your internal rhyme and your rhythm add so much to your images. And I, too, had delusions of camels which reminded me of “Journey of the Magi” by TS Eliot, another poem about the cold which introduces camels–refractory ones, as I recall.

    • So interesting that you refer to Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi”, Natalie. Maybe that was also way, way back in my mind somewhere. My friend,, the poet, John Looker (comment above) was picking up some feeling that corresponds in a way to those last lines of Eliot….”no longer at ease in the old dispensation/…..I should be glad of another death.”

  12. Hello Cynthia. I am Colin, we don’t really know each other yet and I can’t remember what drew me here….wasn’t Stephanie, although I see that she follows you. I can see that you have a lot of admirers and comments and I am not really qualified to comment on poetry but I do have a comment.

    When I read your poetry there is a pace and a rhythm that I make up for myself and I think that I really like your writing and your rhyme and then when I listen to you read the poem, I understand it and laugh out loud. I really like humour as one of the passions and I enjoy your poetry. It helps a lot if you read it the way that you wrote it. I haven’t read much yet, I expect that you can do other passions too.

    I personally struggle for command of my mother tongue but I appreciate that there is a difference between poetry and explaining a scientific concept in a way that is easy to understand, I find it very, very hard to choose my words and very easy to choose yours.

    I liked your Pome πŸ™‚

    PS: I wish that I could write poetry

    • Hello Colin—Let me first say that I have thoroughly enjoyed browsing through your site, and know I will continue to learn much by following. Why does the spirit of Henry Thoreau come to mind….?

      As for being qualified to comment on poetry, I think the best (and most satisfying to the writer of poems) are those comments that respond with authenticity and soul—as yours surely does. Your last sentence about choosing words is in itself a testament to your wit. Thank you very much for it! πŸ™‚

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