after the picture “Winter Trees” by Kathryn Hoover
Summer trees were the witnesses,
gave shade for a blanket, picnic supplies,
lovers who tarried, and had there
been no rainstorm, perhaps would have
lingered till dawn.
Black winter trees now reach skyward.
The hill absorbs light, produces absolute
blackness and nothing but speculation,
concerning the lovers.
Summer trees saw cake and wine,
yet brush strokes left no tell-tale bristle
to solve the unspoken mystery
that echoes up from the core of this
dark-winter earth, of what else they saw.
Behind the hill is a storm-cloud.
Will it join others—white, gray, blue—
separate bands of winter storm-clouds
from which snow and ice descend—
like the cumulous clouds of summer that
brought torrents of evening rain, doused
lovers who ran from clapping thunder?
One cloud—painted in heavy texture—
is behind the winter trees.
Storm clouds and black winter trees
haunt with beauty not the facts.
Author comment: I was attracted to the painting because I find times when the trees are black silhouettes to have a strong spiritual pull. I added a back story to make the poem more than just a description. I added some details that are not in the painting, but I wanted to leave parts of what happened last summer to the imagination of the reader. We know only the present. We don’t know for sure that the clouds will bring a storm, and we know little about the lovers. As a reader speculates and adds details to what is seen or said, he can add to the story, but only the trees know for sure, and the trees aren’t talking.
Bio: Helen Losse is the author of four collections of poems, including Seriously Dangerous (Main Street Rag, 2011) and Better With Friends (Rank Stranger Press, 2009) and the Poetry Editor for the online literary magazine The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Her recent poetry publications and acceptances include Main Street Rag, Iodine Poetry Review, Willows Wept Review, Referential, The Pedestal Magazine, ken*again, Hobble Creek Review, and Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont.