January’s Snow Moon – by Jane Mary Curran (Senior)
New Year’s night a blizzard came through, whipped snow into waves against the house, five foot drifts against the barn. About 3 a.m. I woke to quiet, the emptiness after a roar dies down. The temperature dropped to five below. I opened the curtain on an ice-white moon and shadows sharp as a butcher’s blade. A red fox trotted across the yard, his full-moon shadow etched on snow. He stopped, lifted his nose. Somewhere he sensed a beating heart. He turned and followed its warm-blooded scent, rich on the frozen air.
Down the hall Grandfather sat in his chair, pulled up close to the kitchen stove. He hardly sleeps. I heard a soft rattle as he ran his gnarled fingers through a bag of seeds, murmured stories to himself of last year’s garden, the long rows of peppers, poles of beans, corn, sunflowers, squash on the ground. Behind the stove our old dog, Bo, snored winter dreams on his bed of rags. His blind eyes twitched as rabbits raced across his inner sight and he whimpered in tune with the chase.
Earth lay wrapped in the depths of winter. Outside under the great white moon Pilgrim Death traveled across the snow, gathering in the starved and weary, the fragile beings of blood and bone. I feared for Grandfather, the fox and Bo, their lives made more vulnerable by the brittle cold.
My breath misted the window glass, warm air turning to crystalline frost. I closed the curtain and slid back into bed, my bare feet numb from the chilly floor. I caught Grandfather’s voice as he called up his garden, imagining seeds fattening to blooms.
When I closed my eyes for a bit more sleep, the dark exploded into deep-hued colors: purple, orange, newly-grown green. Shocking, vibrant on a canvas of white. In my dream