by Chrystal Berche

A winter elf
With chartreuse skin
Sits beside a river
Of melting snow
Drawing in the powder
With the quill
Of a porcupine
The image of a ladybug
Captured briefly
In the melting ice
Image frozen
In oil and canvas
The portrait hangs
On the gray stone walls
Of a country jail
Where old men sit
With bloodshot eyes
Playing checkers
And dreaming of days
When statues were built
Of young men brave
And in pursuit
Of legends.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Chartreuse Legends” was inspired by photographs of frost patterns on ice that I had taken just as winter was starting to turn into spring and lace-like melting patterns were forming in the edges of the ice. Some of the patterns in the frost and on the edges of the ice looked like drawings, and in my mind I could see this frost elf just sitting beside the river, drawing pictures in the ice and snow and being frustrated because they were melting before he could get them just the way he wanted. But he had no way of realizing that he was a drawing, so this poem really took on a scene-within-a-scene effect, where if I were still taking animation courses, that would have been the moment when the camera pulled back to reveal the old men sitting beneath the moving image of the elf by the river, weary, jaded, tired, and never realizing that something magical was going on right over their heads — even while they sat playing checkers and talking about how everything worth doing had already been done and theirs was the last great generation.

IMAGE: “Blair” by Heather Gerni. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chrystal Berche writes. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs, and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters, and all the other things she knows and loves. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes it’s aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, she’s taking pictures or curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.