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As the River Thaws
Bruce Dethlefsen


As the river thaws
it snaps with zooming sounds
and eases up from underneath
these sudden giant footprints
open water
on a day too warm for January

another break
a moth too soon
sails over footprints flying
testing its powder wet wings
in light reflection

then the sun rolls over
on its other side to sleep
as January remembers who it is
and stomps
what’s broken open

From Unexpected Shiny Things (Cowfeather Press, 2011).
Used with permission.


Bruce Dethlefsen is the author of five books and was Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate from 2011-2012. He plays drums and harmonica in the Prairie Sands Band and runs Poet Camp twice a year. Bruce volunteers writing poetry in prisons and lives in Westfield, Wisconsin. Learn more about him at




Post New Comment:
Such lovely strong images, I loved the moth testing its powder. That's not all...
Posted 01/31/2020 05:02 AM
What an idea! Great images Bruce. Barb Germiat
Posted 01/29/2020 04:46 PM
Fine poem. I am looking forward to being among the wonderful Wisconsin poets for the month of May.
Posted 01/29/2020 12:07 PM
Lori Levy:
Beautiful images.
Posted 01/28/2020 10:33 PM
michael escoubas:
Great images Bruce. Thank you.
Posted 01/28/2020 05:32 PM
Janet Leahy:
Light and sound tell this story? it reads like a painting, the moth testing its powder wet wings, but then January is back to stomp the river shut. Strong word choices and great visuals. Thanks Bruce
Posted 01/28/2020 09:43 AM
Ooooo I like this. It's a keeper! Well done!
Posted 01/28/2020 09:17 AM
January often forgets who it is.
Posted 01/28/2020 09:05 AM

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