Winter States of Mind

Having grown up in a desert place, the austerities of winter communicate states of mind to me.  Back then, the bony dryness and the transparencies of cold air took me inward. My mental habits took root. Today, 60 years later, living in Portland Oregon, it is a seagull that holds my attention, and since then I’ve acquired the habits of the haiku poet.

Having reached this far

a seagull returns to the sea

under icy clouds

But a few years ago, on the opposite coast, it was a Pond and Thoreau that held my attention.  The lines are prosaic, awkward, discontinuous (at least on the surface) coming into view as the gaze penetrates the world of the pond on that day. While the poems often seem forced from this distance, several years of these “pond songs” provide me now with a notebook full of the imagery of a place intensely observed but now evoking distance as well as immediacy.

November 30, 2013
Pond Song 3.76

There is an other origin beyond the origin in the self with its own inward otherness. GB 176

sea-level pond no mountain top__wind-polished light-carved waves

this wind kept me up all night__day breaks what light saves

sparrows sit low in pale grass__milky ice drapes the shore

sunglare glazes the mudflats__where shallows darken more

wind-shadows spark across__out where buffleheads dive

in summer there’s only one now__it drops from sight its absence excessive

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

One thought on “Winter States of Mind”

  1. What I like so much about this entry is the presence of the poet in relation to the landscape and then to the poetry. There is a sense of wholeness in these relationships, or these dimensions, that speaks of what and how life is to the reader. By this I mean the life of a beholding and responding soul whose attention is free as opposed to captured and capturing. Maybe this is what freedom is really all about.


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