The bite of winter

The season’s dog has clamped its jaws,
biting deep into my warm, moist flesh.
It’s bark turning the sky dispiriting grey
as a canopy of death, an ash urn turned
upside down clutching at the life below
with corpse cold fingers. The birds
refuse to fly, those that do soon drop
from heaven, feathered chunks of ice.
To breathe is to inhale shards of glass,
each breath a searing arctic surgery.
The air is still, cloying, a suffocating chill.
Frigidness permeates every pore in the body
making hands useless, hammer struck fingers
ache dangling off reddened fleshy paws.
The end of the year brings the burden
of survival to all creatures; except
those frozen in stillness, burrowed deep in
the earth never knowing the suffering above,
sleeping to awaken when spring triumphs,
banishing old man Winter to his northern realm.

©2013, Donald Harbour

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