Early Wintertime

a poem by Kathryn E. (Kana) Riley

Kana Riley, of Peterborough, NH, was NHBCC’s first newsletter editor and loved working on every issue. She was a teacher, writer, editor and painter. Kana passed away on April 19, 2001. She was 61 years old.

I wish that I could write a poem

in half an hour on this day of crisp snow

too thin yet to cover the tips of the grass.

I wish that in half an hour I could write

the end of the poem about the red tomato

swollen, like summer romance,

with its own blissful importance,

could bring its luscious curves to mind

without regret, could in half an hour

(there aren’t many left, you know)

reclaim its boisterous beauty,

the hint of nighshade in its juice.

I wish that I could write a poem

for all that’s left behind, outside, beyond,

for all that’s been (and if you really want

to know) for all that is to come.

I wish that I could write a poem

in half an hour, a day, oh lord,

a year that would reveal how long,

how long is left for me of this sweet earth.

I wish that I could write a poem

without an end, a poem that spins

a never-ending tale (and it doesn’t

matter if you’ve heard it all before)

of love and snow and tomatoes—

yes tomatoes that I (or maybe you)

will plant in tiny pots set by the south

windows, that we will watch and water,

that we will grow, through the hours,

through the long hours and days

and ever-shortening nights till spring.