Thing 9: Winter in the North

Winter in the North

She makes an ice stew for breakfast
and serves it in a porcelain bowl
while wicked winter wind whips
through windowpanes loosely glazed.

The further north you go
it seems
the further north there is
to serve as a point of reference,
to make it seem less cold.

Though I feel a chill in my
bones, it is colder in Trondheim,
and in Trondheim it is warmer than
in Tromsø (the south of the North)
where when speak of up north they
mean Hammerfest and beyond. Hammer
festers will begrudgingly admit they
reside to the south of Longyearbyen,
where no one thinks they live south
of anywhere, except for the North
Pole. While there is no permafrost
in Hammerfest, Longyearbyen has
plenty of tundra. Students there
carry firearms in case of polar
bear attack. Mørktid is long and
to work in the coal mines there
one must have a good work ethic
and a sense of irony. Begrudge
them not their sealskin boots,
Southerners.

While -5° Celsius is cold in
Bergen, back home in Chicago,
it is currently -16° Celsius,
which is balmy in comparison to
the -35° Celsius in Jyvaskyla.
That is quite cold. At the
North Pole, the instruments
are frosted over. Who knows?

Not so bad
here,
not so bad.

Tend to your glassy pavement.
The oldsters slip and fall,
crack and break,
walk no more.

The glaciers are melting,
the polar cap shrinks,
and polar bears living in zoos
in warm climates turn green
from the algae that grows in
their translucent hair.
Someday we will miss long
cold nights and things that stay
frozen year-round.

Nevertheless, on mornings like this
I feel that Eliot was a
well-insulated dope.
April has nothing
on February for
cruelty.

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