A stillness in winter -----------------------------(1990-1994) Lawrence A. McFadden

"Carve your name in the ice and wind"


These poems were written during the winters I

was photographing rural Indiana landscapes




a distance

only the eye

can cross


open fields

whirling in winds

and snow


and suns

and moons


in single days

the way

only a bare tree


how this prose


from the winter


of snow




a union

of no trespass

when the wind

is still

and whispers

of snow

fill the woods

with a hush


upon the open fields

as if a breath

of murmurs

surrounds me

with smiles

to show the gladness

that I

somehow sense

would be calling

and the snow

begins falling

just as I





a bare tree

that says

I don't mind

to all

that can be



a bare tree

that knows

I care

for all

that should be



a bare tree

that thinks

I understand

the all

that could be



a bare tree

that reasons

I am


in all

that might be




a place

within places


that are silent


of wonder

in days

of wind and snow

crossed with roads

fenced with fields

and hidden in sight


only the cold

of light of wind

of dark of snow

of dawn of dusk

can go

and my hands

are the witness

to the wicked winds

that sting the naked flesh

of innocence



far from home

only to return

on frozen nights





a glow

that shows

in the cold

and whiteness

of the snow

in my soul

as the


catch my eye


with the wind

which is



the winter


that appears

to be


just for me




a bond

of calm

when the snow

falls upon

the barren fields

and farms


my lord

of winter scenes

drops me

to my knees

as I watch

to see

what is


to me

when the wind


the winter fields

and I hold hands


with the trees




the skies

to help


I want

the fields the trees

the winds the moons

to help


I call

to the woods

to the rocks

to the earth

beneath me

to help


I cry

of the sparrows

of the geese

of the wings

above me

to help


I am begging the world

on my knees

to snow to snow

to snow to snow

to help


and no one

knows why

only I

am here





crossed my heart

and hoped to die

but stopped

to comfort


and I smiled

a laugh so loud

they melted


on my sleeve

and together

we flew


to the next

winter scene




becomes the scenes

in me


which I stand

yet I


my hands

are not in command

my thoughts

are not one man's

my actions

have no demands


as the snow blows

clear through

this poet’s soul

the winter scenes

of fields

and trees


a dream


I am filled

with wonder like

a hush fills a woods

with snow

and I wonder like

how such a sound

could sound so loud

with no words

words only blunder

to explain the wonder

and when I exclaim

there is no sound

that fills with wonder

like the sound

of the snow

on the wings of the wind


the touch of snow

the word just melts

in my soul


the blown


stuck like skeletons

to the trees

in the sun

was the blinding

of white


rural murals


and beckoning

as to what

was the reckoning

that guided

my eyes

and stilled my thoughts

as to let what will be

will be

some days only a blur

of possibilities

other days a rapture




traveled through

to the woods

filled with snow


the bridge

of ice and dreams

to the scene

that swept the clouds

through the trees

and the flurries

that I once hurried

to follow

only to find

the flurries





I wait

at the gate

for snow


a speck of flake

to space no lack

of gray and black

a snowflake

is all

to take the fields

and trees

into the dreams and sky

the eye makes



as the scene

once too gritty

to relate

earth and sky in grace

a speck of white





I've been

through this

and through this

down this road

and that

back and forth

and back and forth

time after time

time and again and

time and again

and again

I go back

to work with my eyes

the way the light

changes every hour

of every day

and the winter

changes like night

changes day

day after day


I've been this way


I thought

before I thought

what was

before me I thought

and tapped my compass

and marked my map


with the noon day sun

how much fun

there is

in a lunch of hunches

as to which way I've

come and which

ways I go

yet how puzzling though

as though the scenes

seem to know


I come and when

I go



perfectly natural

to me to see I saw

the scene many many ways

for many many days


I had many many reasons

for many many seasons


to me to see I saw

all I could

and many times I would

return to return to

the scene I saw


the scene appeared

to me

and opened

my eyes to see


whenever the ever

ever happens

to me

I am

the winter winds

crossing the frozen fields

of blistering snow


I am

filling the woods

with silence and stillness

of the listening glow

of snow

or so

I say the ever

ever happens

to me

peering through the gray

gritty clouds

heavy with loads

of a hello

of snow




the moonbeams

of last winter

in my hands today

like a snowball


my visions

and I began to sweat

and almost panicked

when upon opening

my hands

there rose

from the crushed


a flame

of fire


the warm winds

leave me frozen

in time

I was not chosen

this winter or that

I was gone

this time or that

in winter

the warm winds

leave me frozen

to find

only empty fields

with fallow rows

to show

for a winter

of only two snows




the first



of winter



the distance

of deep blacks

gray skies

and true





the barbed wire fence

that drenched with blood the task

dashed all hopes of wandering

past over to the trees that rose

to catch the falling flakes from

the wings of the sky

I can only cast my eyes through

the shield of fence to the fields

to the woods to the sky

as the wind I cannot fly

as the snow I cannot go

the shield of fence to the fields

I must yield to the hand

that commands this land

the wire is easily cut but

seen with a gleam my tracks

through dreams I go

in the warmth of my bed

I hold in my head

the woods of snow



a snowflake

could sing would

the sound bring anymore

noise to the loudness

of the day

when the clouds

reach down

to fill a woods

or cross a frozen field

in swirls of snow

all alone

would the ears ring

louder then the sound

of a snowflake

hitting the ground

if a snowflake could sing

the wind would just whistle

and the trees would rather

shake free their leaves

in applause



the clouds are tangled

with snow and

the roofs rectangles become

white-sided flats

of the hats

of barns

around which

trees and fences

are darned in the mirage

of rural bliss

there appears a sight

a mural of wonder

beyond the yonder there

of the view that clears

the mind to hear

the hearts of neighbors

who share the winter

of yet another



the morning


the snow shapes

drape the landscape

in statues of flakes

and waits for the sun

or someone to choose

when the wind begins

to create

in the pause within

twilight and first light

dawns as fragile as

a flake as night


the moments before

become a monument

forever in wait

then suddenly the day




reel across the fields

as I wheel to a stop

and drop to my knees

to see the snow

lake and trees that crop

the horizon where

only an artist would

have grown them there

there again I figure

is the sign

greater than anyone

could own or design

by hand

a land covered in



in nature

a perfection


the snow

twirled like cards

and stuck like shards

pinning my eyes shut

as if a bastard of wizards

hurled an angry blizzard

to mire this northern empire

to quench all warmth and desire

born in the cloudy gloom that

looms in the unlit room deep

within the heart of one too many

gray days too many gray days

ago I know

at least if I can

warm my feet and thaw

my brow somehow I can

continue to pursue the

ultimate view of bare trees

frozen fields and gray

gritty clouds

of muse




wind begins

to send the flakes

to bend or break

the sweep of trees

or me

my soul dusted with snow

busted in the guts

by gusts of white

winters night


my dreams of sight

frozen in view

still scenes

of the winter seen

this snowfall of strife

seems to have always

been my children

in life


this time

couldn’t wait

following the fate

of the flurries of flakes

that today makes

the snow appear

not falling but swept

by the gusts to be calling

rush and don't be late

soon there will be none

so come but by then

the blast of winds

hurried away the last flake

and I was left alone

from where I stood

I tightened

the knot of my hood

and could not stop

leaning to walk straight

against the windblown rush

across fallow fields at dusk

the bitter cold was warmed

waiting to create

now I only hurry almost

frozen towards home

making haste


no snow yet

just specks

the wane of the clouds

shrouds only my gaze

days frozen in view to

the horizon glazed

with fence line and

tree line stands

like frost bit hands


up into the syrup

of gray skies

the wind

is alive like a blade

finding a way through

my maze of clothing

to bring the chill that

grips hold the soul

a cold that won't let go

of the pain that stings

like a blaze this land

dazed by the many days

in shades of gray


the wind began

to blow the snow

like sand in strands

of garland that flows

and follows around

the stubble of the fields

now yielding only a feel and

sound of the snow swishing

along the ground

between my boots I mutter

another empty gray day

and shudder with the

cold of the

thought told of earth sky

and tree in cahoots against

me I ought to sacrifice

what part of my life

would free the forces to

again touch the warmth

my dreams

of a woods filled with snow

to be seen once more

time from awhile



there was

no wind after the snow

of one November

long ago

I remembered

the sorrows of my soul

and the flames of my heart

with a quiver of tears I

walked to the river

bend years lost

I thought

when a flock of geese

sought to sleek

by within reach as if

to speak with the tongues

of the chosen ones

a first peek

as to what I now seek

in rhyme the winters

of time



in the middle

of nowhere

I just stood

and stared at the ice

coated trees with throats

would creak and squeak

and the weak broken

branch snap would clap

clear across the fields

and soar in crystal


formed in the calm

awakening of the early morn

born after a storm

a sojourn

left worn

only by the crunch

of my footsteps


I am borne

of sacred snow

a crossing

of white specks

and bare tress of

the woods in my soul

conversing in wordless

religions of a moment

noticed a rapture

captured a vision

given a blessing

from the church

of constant search

I offer a pew of views

in the hold of hands

the nearest hallowed tree

to kneel and be healed

in the scenes

of a halo of snow

and christened in

the frozen fields

in the sighs

of a hello


white skies

gray woods across

corn stubble fields

the crows cry

in black specks

mingled with the white

wings floating on the

winds of the horizon

in a moment

that begins and ends

as I look and look away

and walk back

to the road

yet I pause

to look back

there at the huge tree

growing alone in the

middle of the barren


stands me


there may be a mile

between me and the trees

the barn to the north

the woods east I grin

as the gusts of snow become

whirling winds twirling in

the lonesome fields

of corn stubble aisles

for awhile

and for many days the wind

will rant and rave

and the snow

will come and go

without leaving a trace


I walk down the barren rows

alone to other places

of sacred spaces

places with the grace

that I belong

a calling song singing

these fields woods

and trees are

now home


the hawk flew

between where I stood

and the view of the fields

and woods to where

the snow spewed from the

gray and pink hues of the

marbled sky

my eyes stuck to the brown

speck like a jewel

on the northern windborne

avenue of the flurries

of flakes

my heart ached as this

keepsake flight soon

vanished to white

and I wondered who saw

this sight and whose ears

heard the hawk cry but mine

I felt cold and alone

in space and time

the secret of poets

a vision divine


along the road

there are only telephone

poles linked by black strands

from arms with no hands

crosses of soulless idols

standing as the lonesome

totems of faceless men

in places filled with empty


sticks of wood on the threshold

of if I could I would rip

from the sod this crucifix

god of civilization

then to watch in the distance

the very instance of a

telephone pole disappearance

as one by one down the line

is hidden

plucked from sight

behind the veils of northern

gales and times of blowing snow


I took an old gray board

from a broken down barn

and nailed the moon

to the clouds

alighting my heart

like the snow in the dark

and my bones shone as a

whiteness the night wings

sweep upon the ground

till the charcoal light

of morning and awakening

I wish for sips of coffee

and the confection that tastes

as sweet as the crystal breaths

falling upon my beard

I notice

fresh tracks had past

and with a snug of my hat

I take the path that

takes me



row after row

of corn stubble gold

the snow blows I am

told that solitude proves

why I occupy a moments space

in this field a view of a sacred

place of twirling snowflakes

that blur the sight of the distant

woods which might disappear

or a tree simply vanish

behind the curtain of a certain

time when in the silence

of trance

the shades of gray are drawn

and in the stillness of wind i am

in awe as the trees are now in dance

and the field is now a corn stubble

prance and I smile a lover's dream

at my plight this is not a chance

sight and I am warmly embraced

with the love of my only companions

bare trees, frostbite, and a solitude

in what seems to be


I've grown

lonely with the last

quickening days of early

winter my thoughts forever

drift like the rising wind

white with wings rushing

across the barren fields I

stand as one again with

the hundredth of one

a tree in the woods

with arms outstretched

above solitude and above

the emptiness the lonesomeness

I find of crowded time

and in the crowds of push

and shove

I pray to again be chosen

in time shown frozen

the ultimate view

I can give

to You


there I was

again smack dab

in the middle of where

I don't know I don't care

drinking the thick arctic air

in big gulps staring into the distance

of the crystal clarity of ice cube

eyes south of the county line

east of nine mile creek

for a peak into the distant views

between the barns and woods where

the white continues to seek

where the earth is glued to the

winter sky sputtering the frozen

flow of wind a force in a course

that penetrates deeply into me like

a wind through a tree in the middle

of a barren field in the middle of

a sacred space out in the middle

of nowhere

yet I am there