‘News From The North’: Poems Explain Winter As A Spiritual Exercise

Jagoe Has Compiled A New Work

Ice Crystal Ocean/photoholic1 (CC-BY-NC)

“This far north, winter/ is a spiritual exercise, weight-/ training for the soul,” writes Wisconsin poet Catherine Jagoe.

Her new collection of poems, “News from the North,” is a perfect companion to these late days of winter when the sight of a snow shovel can drop your heart through your (salt-crusted) boots.

Jagoe writes lyrically about the emotional and physical seasons of life in a northern climate and the annual cycle of freeze and release.

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Here’s one we love — a poem for the end of March:


the house smells of bought daffodils

grown somewhere south of here

somewhere kinder

I crack the bedroom window

for the first time in five months and forget

to close it

at night freezing we drink

the sweet wine of the day’s air

down the street a Muslim gives a Jew a medal

of the Buddha for surviving influenza

and the winter alone with two kids

tulips are thrusting up fistfuls of shoots

not green but red like secret body parts

exposing themselves

a girl is rescued from death by her ponytail

grabbed by her cousins

after falling through thin ice while playing

and today on the marsh a pair of sandhill cranes

with their scarlet caps and big bustles stalk awkwardly

stumbling when the ice gives under them

they raise their heads and cuss the air

when I so much as move

it’s the first time I’ve seen wild cranes so close

I’ve only ever glimpsed them high and far away

although I always start up when I hear them

calling a rusty hinge creaking

in the wind a door long shut

inching open

Editor’s Note: Selected from “News from the North,” by Catherine Jagoe, published January 2015. Available from Finishing Line Press.

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