Blue Mists of Winter

When I look for wisdom tonight

I find aphorism in the mountain’s white ridge,

shining in moonlight like a possible

future to have faith in.

I sense more in places I can’t quite see

where the mountain meets the valley,

where perhaps a rift exists,

holding onto night longer than

the rest of the vale. I hear

the night owl’s gasp on her flight

through the black and ash pattern

of the forest under the moon’s

broken light, threading its way

to an open field, to a farmhouse

lit from inside, clinging to the hill’s crest.

Winter’s mist turns the snow blue

as Chagall’s horses––the field rising

like a flying carpet, candles floating

in the heavens, drifting down

to the river of sacred swirling myth

flowing from the fertile valley,

the mountain perched like a chapel.

Something about the arrival of a winter evening sweeps the speaker in this poem up into a bit of mind travel over the landscape pulling in the owl, the moonlight, the bare trees of the forest, and Chagall. Somehow it all fits together. In early winter, much can feel possible even amidst the growing darkness that is present on so many levels. There is darkness in the forest, darkness in the vales of the fields, in the sky, and in the uncertainty, but there is also the moon’s soft light and the blue white light of snow creating the kind of conditions for the imagination to take off in mystical and inspiring ways, before landing again, re-grounded on Earth.

The appearance of Chagall in the poem was unexpected and fanciful. But he had a very mystical side, and painted in Russia and Paris often against the backdrop of war and the challenges of making his way as a Jewish artist. But he stayed true to his art seeing it as “not the dream of one person but of all humanity.” His world, as ours, was full of winter, wooden houses, people, animals, even phantoms. All of this made it into his work, set against starlight and blue nights and a sense of deep wonder. Sometimes giving way to the imagination is one of the wisest things we can do as darkness settles in for a while.

This poem first appeared in the Best of Burlington 2017 Anthology.

Susan Jefts is a poet and editor from the Adirondacks and Vermont, whose poems have been published in numerous journals, most recently Quiet Diamonds by Orchard Street Press and Poems in the Time of Covid by Small Pond Press in Brattleboro.

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