I’ve enjoyed photography since high school, when I had the opportunity to take a photography class (how lucky was I to attend a public school that thought photography was a good use of time and resources!) For many years my camera focused on our kids, but when digital photography became popular, I left the family photos to my son. Then a few years ago my husband bought me a Canon Rebel for my birthday–and I fell in love with photography again. I occasionally post birds and bugs on Facebook, and sometimes (although not often enough) I use my photos for poetry prompts.
Earlier this week I tried taking photos of snowflakes for the first time. I am no Snowflake Bentley, but I managed to get a decent shot of the flakes on our picnic table in the low afternoon light. When I posted it on Facebook with the caption “Snowflakes at dusk,” Matt Forrest Essenwine commented that it would be the perfect title for a poem. I decided to take his challenge.
speckles of white swirl and melt //fading light
Speckles of white in black fur
Perfect crystals before melting on jacket sleeves
Slip off pine needles
Cover crunchy ground with soft fluff
Bird tracks under feeder
Frozen ground crunches under black paws–
And then I wrote: What ties all this together??
Other than my being outside with the hound, I had no idea. I tried to focus on a small detail, and that led me to haiku. Although I admire haikus that I read online (like those by Robyn, Diane, and Liz) I’ve never really understood what makes them work. But far be that from stopping me–and I figured I could use my title as one line, so the poem was one-third written! Here are a couple of mediocre attempts:
snowflakes at dusk–
new fluff softens
the frozen ground
snowflakes at dusk—
bird tracks fill
Both of those felt a bit slight to me, but nothing else seemed to gel. When I was reading in bed that night (Circling the Sun by Paula McLain) I was taken by the descriptions of the African sky. McLain’s words sparked some ideas, and I jotted them down. In the morning, I turned my scribbles into this:
Snowflakes at Dusk
The air brims with flakes–
crystalline stars that drift and fall,
speckling black dogs and gray branches,
erasing bird tracks below the feeder,
muffling the crunch of frozen ground.
So there you go, Matt. Three poems for the price of one! If my snowflake photo inspires you, dear readers, please share a poem in the comments.
Happy Poetry Friday. Tabatha has this week’s round-up at The Opposite of Indifference.