(A poem in five parts for Bern—Christmas 2011—with much, much love....Jim)
(WHITEOUT is a weather condition in which visibility and contrast are severely reduced by snow.)
A solitary figure trudges
across of faceless landscape.
It is bitterly cold and bleak beyond believing.
Nothing makes sense.
Exhaustion is near.
It is dawn, or dusk.
(The horizon disappears completely and there are no reference points at all, leaving the individual in a distorted orientation.)
Down is up.
Left is right.
Forward is back.
East is South and North is West.
The figure pauses. Sits.
Dreams of sleep or sleeps and dreams.
Either the other, or the one.
(Whiteout has been defined as: A condition of diffuse light when no shadows are cast, due to a continuous white cloud layer appearing to merge with the white snow surface.)
Without a shadow, who are we?
A shadow is proof positive that we are there:
We take up space,
To cast a shadow is to be Real.
Without a shadow, where are we?
Do we exist? Have being?
Shadowless, are we real?
(People can be lost in their own front yards during a true whiteout, when the door is only 10 feet [3.04 meters] away, and they would have to feel their way back.)
I often experience whiteouts—mostly in winter, which is appropriate.
I feel lost, disorientated,
confused by pain, physical failures,
the frailties of my body,
who I am,
not knowing if I BE,
Some whiteouts are emotional:
fear of fading away into unbroken white,
wondering if I have been
Disappearing in whiteness,
dreaming of sleep,
Longing, longing greatly,
to feel my way back to the front door.
(In whiteouts no surface irregularities are visible, but a dark object may be clearly seen. There is no visible horizon.)
You are the front door of my life.
You are the 'clearly seen' object when my horizon is not visible.
You have always oriented me in the whiteouts of my life.
Whether I have been good enough,
loving enough, caring enough,
I could find my way,
reach the front door,
see the horizon,
survive the whiteouts,
weather the storm,
move through the bleakness and the chill,
the dreams of sleeping
and the sleeping dreams
and find my way home.
You give me back my shadow
and make me exist,
make me real,
You are the 'home' of my life
and the clearing that leads to light
and wholeness, and wonder,
and magic, and love.