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Owens, Elisabeth, R. (ed.) / Encore: more of parallel press poets
(2006)

Genoways, Ted
Instructions for winter,   p. 36


Page 36

 
Instructions for Winter 
     Eagle, Alaska 
You must private away a secret summer, 
cached and fed by darkness like sourdough 
in a larder, so that each noon numbered 
in lamplight is matched by a midnight, yellow 
with the slant of June. Against such permafrost, 
you must toughen yourself on carrion; 
you must fatten on summer-berries and moss- 
to carry you across the windswept barrens. 
Live but remember the reason, the source 
and abyss where everything living dies. 
And when the first flakes swirl into drifts, hold 
summer close and let winter run its course. 
Curl in your den, sleep; and when you arise, 
shoulder forth lean and perfected by cold. 
Ted Genoways 
[previously published in Poetry] 
Poet's Statement 
"Instructions for Winter" is another poem about Abe and Anna Malm,
the Finnish 
odd couple I began chronicling in Anna, washing (Parallel Press, 2001). In
this 
poem, Anna is speaking to herself, reassuring herself, as she faces another
winter, 
her first after Abe's death. To my mind, it had to be a kind of love poem.
So I 
modeled it after Rilke's "Sonnets to Orpheus II, 13," translated
so beautifully by 
Stephen Mitchell. Apart from the connection of subject matter ("among
these win- 
ters there is one so endlessly winter / that only by wintering through it
all will your 
heart survive"), I chose this poem to emulate because my wife memorized
the 
entire sequence one summer while working at a cannery in Alaska. She recited
it 
to me on the icy February night of our first date. How could I not hear it
behind 
every poem of love and longing? 
36 


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