Winter Hatchlings for the New Year

after Norman Dubie

Winter Hatchlings for the New Year | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Ross White, honorable mention prizewinner in the 10th annual Zócalo Poetry Prize.

Like a Buddhist painting, winter
caps the peaks of Sierra Escalona,
its frosted strawberry trees mourning what’s to come.
Acorn seedlings fleck the ground in soft contrast
and high in the belfry of a misplaced bethel,
eagle-owls are courting.
The Duchess, boar-spear in hand,
posts herself in a break among the thicket,
gentle static from her boots on skift
dissipating across frozen air, her
heavy breaths like fleeting clouds among dancing flakes.
A wild boar, bristly hairs erect on its mane,
is drawn to the hunt, spurred on
by greyhounds howling in the near distance.
In this story, the boar skewers the Duchess, she
impales the boar, each grinding their teeth, foam
and spittle spewing from their mouths,
the greyhounds lapping at heels,
their collective wails muted by the morning’s cold.
Falling snow
beads around them like a closing prayer,
a winter coat keeping their embrace.
Unwilling to abandon their lady, the greyhounds
nestle one another, settle in among the dead.
By March, the icy monument will have thawed
and somewhere in forgotten memory a clutch of eggs will hatch.

Ernesto L. Abeytia is a Basque- and Spanish-American poet and teacher whose poetry appears or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Fugue, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. He currently teaches at Arizona State University. This poem received an honorable mention in the 10th annual Zócalo Poetry Prize.
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