In The Country Where
It Is Always Winter

(After Pieter Breughel’s Hunters in the Snow)

I am tired of romping in this cold beauty.

In a land without memory where the wind and the snow.

I am tired of the voluptuousness of winter.

This town is unfamiliar, not even as close as a cousin.

The sky is a disheveled gray.

The same pale color as my brothers’ eyes.

What they are thinking?

I don’t know.

We have long since ceased to communicate.

What use?

It does not stop our wanderings.

It does not help us to escape this country.

The country where it is always Winter.

That these dogs are starving like the ragged souls of this town does not surprise me.

Did I say brothers?

At one time they were strangers.

But when that time was I can’t say.

And the dogs too, vagabonds, strangers themselves, immune to disease.

They follow us as if we had anything for them.

You’d think they would run to the fire.

But like for us warmth of that kind is only an illusion.

What kind of purgatory is it where the town’s people skate on ice?

A town called temptation?

If only we could stay here.

If only there were some kind of salvation in the snow.


The sound of the fire, dumb like the dreamless nights of sleep.

The children’s voices I can hear, echoes in a well.

As for the swallows their immaculate twisting rends nothing.

And the dogs.

The dogs.

No whimpering for these mutts.

Just a slow sifting of the white ground.

Their anxious feet make the snow a poor betrayer to the silence.

A silence that rises like the dank smell of smoke.

A silence I have become used to.

Hoary and full of echoes.

I want to say I left a loved one behind.

But, I can’t.

Maybe I did, but I don’t know now.

It’s been so long.

I imagine what she would have looked like.

But that again is another impossible task.

I can’t get beyond the hands.

A chilly alabaster, slender.

One last look onto the ice then.

Ice so hard I can almost dream of another life beyond its surface.

It carries our stern reflection as we descend.

Look, the trees stand wracked with a solitary anguish.

They are like brittle black skeletons in the on-coming twilight.

And like windmills the children wave their innocent arms.


Paul Perry

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