Theodore K. Phelps

Closed for Winter

From a cluster of rounds
Dry gray
A creeking river of wood
The trunk of a winter lilac
Pepper gray like the hair in my hat

Come up its pathward rise
Past the branching
The splitting thins
To face a sudden nest of twigs
The ends

A congregation of buds
Upfolded hands
Prayed to the sun
Enfolding the memory
Holding the future of blossom

Prologue Again

When the melt of April in this part of
Mother Earth has come to free us from the
Grip of cold that held us by the fire and
Sent us out to look for wood, then happy
Children press their faces to the glass to
See the sun burn off the last of snow and
Tumble past each other down the stairs and
Out the back door with no shoes on running
To the warming arms of mud or earth, while
Men and women rise from bed still wet with
Dreams and drink their coffee at the window
Opened now to let the newborn breezes
Clean the house of winter. Then a hunger
Will awaken for fresh pilgrimages.

Life of an Oak and Maple

An oak and maple live, an aging pair,
beside the garden. The branches brush our
roof, and their rugged trunks hold our hammock.
They mesh leaves like old friends slapping shoulders.

Each year, in October, with no reason
I can see, the maple lets loose her leaves,
like a dress dropped to the floor while thinking.
The oak is fine. The maple looks like death.

The rusty nest of dry oak leaves, like a
colony of sleeping rafter bats, holds
on until a rainwind, down from winter,
strips them off in clumps. Grieving every one.

Then these two stand mute and gray like graveyard
lovers. Sometimes in a sun and breeze they
click their ice coat limbs together. Only
God knows what they’re up to in their rootspace.


About the Author

Theodore K. Phelps
b. 1948.
Theodore (Ted) Phelps, Hudson Valley resident, writes, paints, acts, plays music, and teaches Natural Meditation, all for the love of it. He wrote and published A Course in Meditation. "I make a poem when I both need to and can, and that can be rare in some seasons, like weather events that vanish so long we almost forget they are possible around here.” Ted hosts a Facebook group (FB Improv Poems) that anyone can join to add a spur to write something as soon as it comes and put it out there as our courageous improv performers so generously do. The three poems shown here were born there in 2015 and are being quietly raised at home. Some of his art and writing is at

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