Pick-a-Poem: “Winter, Mississippi”

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Happy New Year, readers! On this lovely first day of the new year, we have a featured poem for you! As always, this poem has come from Poetry Daily, which you should definitely check out if you’re looking for some new poems and poets to discover. This week’s poem is particularly appropriate for the snow we’ve gotten recently in the Chicagoland area. It’s entitled Winter, Mississippi and is written by Catherine Pierce.

According to her page on Poetry Daily, Catherine Pierce “is the author of The Girls of Peculiar (Saturnalia, 2012) and Famous Last Words (Saturnalia, 2008). Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Slate, Boston Review, Ploughshares, FIELD, and elsewhere. She lives in Starkville, Mississippi, where she co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.”

Winter, Mississippi, by Catherine Pierce

          “Rare Winter Tornadoes Sweep Through South”
—ABC News Headline

Here it is, not even February, and the boy
is going sockless, the birds are shrieking

with June-hot abandon, the sun is sincere
against the blue blue sky. Most days I forget

my coat and don’t go back, while up north
the clouds are the color of the interstate.

In my hometown, heads are bent against gales,
cars are coughing into frosted mornings.

Down here we’re crocus-blessed.
So I know not to complain. But I feel

each sprig of green like a needle. This
singing winter is an unhinged sweetheart—

all gloss and lilt, until the shift. Then
the temperature drops like a downed limb,

and there’s vengeance, sucking up livestock
and pines into a sky suddenly gone

smoke-gray and whirling. I won’t be sugar-
talked by the warmth. My red sundress

sparks in the closet like a warning flare.
Each day I wait for the blue to vanish

into a vacuum where no birds bother.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s poem. Happy New Year! For more poems, click here.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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