Richard Spilman, "Morning Frost"




Shafts of light spotlight the ordinary into beauty. 

Or should I say reveal hidden beauty? Hard to say. 

Morning hike, the cold keeping up my tempo.

Blackberries here grow not in thickets but clumps

where the light falls; the fruit is frozen, mushy 

from frost that did not enter the wood we sheltered in. 

Farther on, I emerge from the rain forest’s muddle 

of growth and decay to a glade of rimed grass: 

an ice palace, still, certain, pure and terribly fragile. 

Here, a world to breathe in but not to touch. I tread

lightly as though gentleness might make me less

an intruder and surprise deer nibbling raspberry 

leaves, thorns no problem for their leathered tongues. 

I turn stone, and they expose as little as they can. 

For ten minutes, it’s a staring contest. Like Kafka 

they believe, “All human errors are impatience.” 

Appetite wins. They graze again, tails twirling, 

noses twitching. A doe scrubs the face of her 

adolescent daughter, who submits then wanders off 

to nibble fleas on her flank. I am there so long 

my legs tremble, unused such fixtures, while they

pick and nibble—two alarms for every bite—then 

like smoke they disappear among the shadows.



Richard Spilman is the author of a book of poetry, In the Night Speaking, and a chapbook, Suspension, as well as two books of short fiction. His poetry has appeared in many publications, including Poetry, Southern Review, Rattle and Gargoyle.