“clouds arranged like asphodel”: Janet McNally’s “Maggie Says There’s No Such Thing as Winter”

Janet McNally_Maggie SaysJanet McNally’s “Maggie Says There’s No Such Thing as Winter” is a gorgeous gem of a poem, tender and clear-eyed.

The speaker sits with Maggie in summer, under the shade of a tree, as Maggie strings blue stones together; Maggie has memory trouble (the language suggests she may have been in a coma), and has difficulty processing the speaker’s gentle descriptive reminder of the way seasons change, a change enacted in the poem itself, which begins with an invocation of winter (something I’m sure Ms. McNally, who teaches at Canisius College in Buffalo, knows a bit about) and then travels into summer and beyond.

This is a rather colorless description, I’m afraid, of a very fine poem. Here are my favorite lines:

She forgets that sometimes things don’t stay
where you leave them, that the sky fades

to white even before snow begins
to fall.

What’s your favorite poem about winter?