Runners in the Snow
Two hours in, we trudge the ridgeline, lead-legged,
faces numb, rime of breath-frost ghosting
our eyelashes, our beards, our backs bent
under the glacial weight of miles. Our skinny dogs
are weary from porpoising the drifts, chasing
the echoes of last summer’s rabbits down dream-
holes in crusted snow. Above the town/below
the skim-milk sky, we find ourselves pinned
to this landscape, no more free than the brush-
strokes of crows who smear themselves
across the flat, matte, hunkered-down hulk of cloud.
The afternoon wears claustrophobia like a cloak,
the chimney smoke pressed to the rooftops,
the rachitic branch-tips of trees. No velocity,
no escape. The horizon—shredded by steeples,
the broken canines of peaks—seems fixed,
phony, vanishing-point the gunmetal river pours
itself into. A creeping quiessence: color-suck,
sound-suck, ice-water coalesces in our limbs
even as we drizzle ourselves over one last hilltop
between forest and home. And then a cry
like birdsong vaults from the valley, scarlet dialect
our startled blood remembers. A kid, a pond hockey
hat-trick, and afternoon’s chest cracks open,
the day erupts into a whole new kind of awake. Joy
is an iceberg, but sometimes it geysers
from your heart like steam. So we haul ourselves
up onto our toes, race each other over the crest,
tumble into town in an avalanche of howls and hollers,
the ecstatic singing of dogs. This is how spring begins.
Brent Terry holds an MFA from Bennington College. He is the author of three collections of
poetry: the chapbook yesnomaybe, (Main Street Rag, 2002) the full-length Wicked, Excellently
(Custom Words, 2007) and Troubadour Logic (Main Street Rag, forthcoming 2018). His stories,
essays, reviews and poems have appeared in many journals. He is working on new poems, a
collection of essays and a novel. Terry lives in Willimantic, CT, where he scandalizes the local
deer population with the brazen skimpiness of his running attire. He teaches at Eastern
Connecticut State University, but yearns to rescue a border collie and return to his ancestral
homeland of the Rocky Mountain West.
5/9/2018 11:58:29 am
The words of Mr. Terry's poem perfectly re-create the scene in the artwork. Were I to close my eyes and have the poem read to me, the scene depicted in the artwork would immediately be played out in my mind. His words made me feel the dreariness, the exhaustion and finally the joy of the runner. Well done!
Gary Patrick Manning Jr
4/15/2021 04:09:52 am
I spent 3 months running , laughing, and pondering our futures with Brent Terry. We were 19 years old.
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