On Waking I Think of Winter

by Sarah Sloat
Desert Moon Review
Third Place (tie), September 2009
Judged by George Szirtes

mostly because my legs jut like a long
pier out over waves
in the dark’s oceanic pitch

I think of winter when my husband snores across
          the expanse of bed, tundra-vast
because children insist on visiting

papoose, bear cub, eskimo: wool
blanket curled below their throats

and I wake like Jack London, only less
bearded, less brave, though the brown kiss of a dog
assists me

where just moments ago I was steeped in
          sleep, hallucinating a daisy-faced cartoon
landscape, now

I think of winter because of dreams redressed
          by startling alarms, because I have no idea
how to go on

and I think of winter as I always do at dawn
and always did, before I guessed
what winter was

A splendidly funny and childlike image to begin with, immediately given gravity by the dark oceanic pitch, the poem opens on its large possibilities with confidence. Then comes the snoring husband and the waking like Jack London. All this is lovely. The poem then moves on to a meditation about winter and I slightly wish it had moved back into the rougher, more surprising territory it set out with - not necessarily the same image but in that realm. It goes just a touch abstract at the end. It is still a very good piece of work but that cartoon landscape might have come up with something more. But excellent first eleven lines. --George Szirtes