Very Strong February

By Bernadette Mayer b. 1945 Bernadette Mayer
A man and a woman pretend to be white ice
Three men at the lavender door are closed in by the storm
With strong prejudice and money to buy the green pines
One weekend fisherman and blue painters watch
The vivid violet winds blow visibility from the mountain
Beyond the black valley. That means or then you know
You’re in a big cloud of it, it’s brilliant white mid-February
A week or two left on distracting black trees
Before the brownish buds obscure your view of the valley again.

Looking for company four dark men and a burnt sienna woman
Come in for three minutes, then bye-bye like a gold watch left on the
Or part of the sum of what big white families think up
To store for long yellow Sundays to eat for brown ecological
At some point later gorgeous red adventure stops, did you forget
To turn it down and laugh in the face of the fearful white storm
Or picture it brilliant blue for a further Sunday memory
In a coloring book, you talk as lightly as you can
Refusing a big pink kiss, you burned the Sunday sauce
Of crushed red tomatoes, you turn it down to just an orange glow.
This particular storm, considering the pause and the greenish thaw before it
Reminds me in its mildness of imitating a sea-green memory that is
In the future, I imitate an imagined trumpet sound
Or the brilliant purple words of a man or woman I haven’t met yet
Or perhaps it’s a grey-haired man I already know who said some-
                  thing yesterday
To a mutual friend who will give me the whole story in black and
                  white tomorrow
Or the day after, just as the big orange plows for the local businesses
Go to work to push away the rest of the white snow that will fall

"Very Strong February" by Bernadette Mayer, from A Bernadette Mayer Reader. Copyright © 1968 by Bernadette Mayer. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Source: A Bernadette Mayer Reader (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1992)

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Poet Bernadette Mayer b. 1945

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Nature, Winter

Poetic Terms Imagery, Metaphor

 Bernadette  Mayer


An avant-garde writer associated with the New York School of poets, Bernadette Mayer was born in Brooklyn, New York, and has spent most of her life in New York City. Her collections of poetry include Midwinter Day (1982, 1999), A Bernadette Mayer Reader (1992), The Desire of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (1994), Another Smashed Pinecone (1998), and Poetry State Forest (2008). Known for her innovative use of language, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Nature, Winter

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Imagery, Metaphor

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