"Any Winter" by Maia Carlson


There is this urge as I perch on my porch and tip my frown towards

the stubborn, root-bound

rose, the trailing

vine, the valiant

weed, looking at me like blithe

dryads with their peridot eyes

and periwinkle smiles.

There is this urge to bring them all inside before Winter can get her claws on them. 


I feel like a greedy god who will not share. An amnesiac, stupid god, who willfully

forgets year after

year that plants love

the earth first,

and me

a far distant second,

even though I’d never set loose

Winter’s cold hounds on them, never crush the heads upon my lap with fists of frost.


But I’m a heart-sore god who dies a little in the most pathetic way when I see

all the earth’s green things

bending their heads

to the bitter, biting chill

their supplicant hands rimed

with frost

while I’m warm and toasty inside, all of Summer’s spoils at my altar.


Surely I have room for them all? Surely my current fussy, root-bound nestlings--

my haughty, secretive orchids

whose flowers I’ve forgotten the colors of;

my African Violets with their velveteen lips

and persnickety hearts;

that plant I lost the name of,

but who grows uproariously as a testament to my mothering—

wouldn’t mind just a bit more chlorochrous company? Another refugee from Winter or two?


It would only be for the winter, I tell myself. Only for the winter, until they love me first,

until the warmth of my hearth

can sink into their roots,

until they live on my exhale,

bloom when I inhale.

I’m like a cat closing its paws

and sinking its sickle claws into soft feathers, and saying, “I’ll only only love you so hard.”