The Birch in Winter

Birch in Winter photo
Photo by wolfgangfoto cc

In this, the season of wanting,
The eyes are not allowed a choice.
There is neither color nor pure white,
But only the monochromatic monarchy,
The rule of gray over all.

Against the matte mercury sky
The branches of the chestnuts and oaks,
Run like tributaries
From their gruff charcoal bodies,
And the snow that lays on them
Is dusted daily with Moscow’s soot.

There are no cardinals, no jays here,
Coming to feed on suet and seed,
Delighting the eye with contrast.
But only the mosaiced pigeons,
Shaped from cut shards of gray,
And the crows, which in Moscow,
Are not obsidian, but tinged
With monochromacy.

In the morning I find myself wanting
Not prancing red cardinals,
Not the voiced hysteria of the jays
But the sight of the bark of the voiceless birch
that shares the space beyond my window.
Leaning my legs against the overheated radiator
I open the window, confront the brittle cold
to see her.

She stands there, white and black against the gray;
The contrast an escape, a pleasure.
A memory comes to me – a moment in late Fall,
When the sun shined through her translucent leaves,
Transforming them into foils of gold.

As the snow lands soft on my face,
The memory suffices.
The gray becomes bearable,
and I find myself satisfied.

Mary Metzger is a 72 year old retired teacher who has lived in Moscow for the past ten years. She studied Women’s Studies under Barbara Eherenreich and Deidre English at S.U.N.Y. Old Westerbury. She did her graduate work at New York University under Bertell Ollman where she studied Marx, Hegel and the Dialectic. She went on to teach at Kean University, Rutgers University, N.Y.U., and most recenly, at The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology where she taught the Philosophy of Science. Her particular area of interest is the dialectic of nature, and she is currently working on a history of the dialectic. She is the mother of three, the gradmother of five, and the great grandmother of 2.


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