Seattle based writer, Anna Goren, shared with us poetry that captures her experience of ‘December.’ Her poems are accompanied by a short explanation to orient them both in meaning and time.
“I have always envisioned the year as a straight line, rather than a circle. So approaching these last few weeks and days feels like a giant leap through metaphysical time and space back toward January. With all that anticipation, it’s easy to romanticize the idea of December, and getting through the month often seems like a balance between expectation and reality.”
With Anna as our toe in the water, we dive into the new year, and into this new project with more excitement than expectation. Each month will feature an artist we love, creating an original work in real-time throughout 2018. We couldn’t be prouder to begin our straight line towards 2019 with two poems by Anna Goren. All photos below are by Anna.
Two Poems For Winter
CabinFever Presents Issue N 0.1
An out of season poem
to eat a strawberry
that tastes like bottled water
i’m not thirsty, exactly, but
looking for a different pleasure
and is there anything more cruel
than an apple that grinds, soft
against your tongue?
(even nature herself
does not escape deceit)
the empty promise of November,
a re-heated cup of coffee,
unsated and wanting
i’d rather stock up
and leafy greens
gorge myself on evening, and
other people’s words
I rely on a few, small expectancies of winter.
The certainty of gaping December,
of the impossible mountain
hanging off every back bumper,
a postcard from the sky.
A tingling nod at death
in my fingertips
each year, more familiar and less damning.
I curl up in the comfort of returning
to my mother’s linear thinking—
our bad circulation.
Words still stirring, as they do
this time hot and falling,
licking my hands into feeling—
The taste of a cold room
on your mouth
just the way you like it.
Today I am so sedated
with starches and Sunday papers, stretched
into Thursday morning
into evening, and more evening;
that summer’s looming largess feels like decades from me now
from this glowing living room.
Still, I push myself to the edge
of a long line—
of bad habit
of exhaustion and
till it breaks, like a sigh.
In September, a baby was born on Pearl St.
looking much like all other babies.
No one likes to admit this in the presence of God
conducting the repeat miracle
(and we never tire of this one).
her black hair curls with distinction
and when one day, she towers over
with his mouth, and her eyes
they will say that she looks exactly the same
as she did on the day she was born.
When it comes to a narrative for December, it’s hard to get around the behemoth of Christmas. Christmas was never part of my own tradition, and growing up in Seattle, the changing of the seasons is not a triumphant arrival of winter—it’s very subtle, barely noticed. So I’ve always felt primed to pay attention to other small, mostly unremarkable rituals and moments in December that unfold beneath the surface.
This December I am celebrating Christmas with my wife’s family, and spending time with my new niece, Eleanor. Newborn babies are so interesting; all product and possibility, no true experience of themselves. I’m always blown away by how amazing and unremarkable they are at once. Babies just exist; they cry and eat, they lack the personalities that draw us in—and even with a completely unique set of DNA they all seem so very much the same. Eleanor is almost four months now, and she’s beginning to grow into features that are all hers. Everything that happens around her is starting to make an imprint on the distinct human being she will be, unlike anyone else. And I imagine that one day we’ll look back on her as a newborn and say we saw something of herself there—and I can’t wait to find out what that is.
Winter is also the time to turn inward, and work on cultivating the inner life that gets ignored the rest of the year. Or settle in for a long spell of seasonal affective disorder. Probably both. That comes through in the first poem, which I wrote while trying to make a relationship work when the timing just wasn’t right. I was working in a tiny cafe kitchen, doing repetitive tasks with food which allowed me to be in my head for much of the day. The cafe had a consistent menu, and strawberries and tomatoes were particularly unforgiving in the winter months. I was hulling and dicing pounds and pounds of them—grainy, dull, and tasteless—every day of December. It bothered me to see droves of people ordering expensive caprese salads and strawberry crepes day in and day out, so committed to the idea of a food that they were willing to overlook its mediocrity, the bad timing of it all. So I started taking solace in the idea of just accepting the timing of what was going on in my own life. Eating a tomato or berry during the winter still makes me feel a bit depressed.
So here’s to 2018: Pushing our own stories forward, and returning to the things that make us feel like ourselves.