Jan Chronister – Five Poems

Winter Walk

The last time I looked
Orion was wading over the horizon
tromping on the tiara
of far-away Duluth. A white spider
wove a frozen web across
my February calendar. He had barely
finished when the warm hand of March
turned the page, sending splinters
of icy silk against the wall. The crystals
melted into small pools I stepped
in when I got out of bed.

Ode to Rosemaling

Praise to the dispossessed artists
painting flowers, vines, scrolls,
accenting edges with innocent dots.
They travelled Norway, decorated churches,
cupboards, plates. Accepted room and board
instead of pay. Praise to the resisters

during Nazi occupation who hid
Haakon’s royal cypher in the center
of blossoms and swirls. In winter

I walk a white landscape,
recall forgotten colors, return home
spot a rosemaled box my father left me.
His stubbornness, his stoic faith
emanate from curled leaves
plump teardrops. Praise to
paint and brush and wood
that keep our dreams alive.


~ after The Sacred Place by Virginia Dehn

The sacred places are round:
Paha Sapa-Black Hills-
eye of the owl
medicine lodge
cathedrals’ rose windows
Tara in County Meath
where the Stone of Destiny
points upward like a digit.

Eyes rise
to red rocks in Australia,
manmade hills in Cahokia,
mounds rising from our mother.
Eggs incubate in nests
creating life from liquid.
The womb enclosed in darkness
is filled with circles of light.


An oily film
settles on everything,
residue of life in a place
where woodsmoke and
supper’s steam cling to

Every wall in the house
woodwork and doors
get a fresh coat of white
to cover splatters of
tomato sauce, collapsed spider webs
heavy with black soot.

She paints over
thoughts of granddaughter
on chemo, husband’s cough
dog barking all night long.

Four days before Christmas
snow hangs on trees like dust.
Weak heat of solstice sun
loosens ice, white squares
slip off branches
drop straight down
bury themselves in drifts
like old notes and photos
in a box she never opens.

Biography of a Blossom

Each morning I cut up
an apple to take to school
not from a backyard tree
but New Zealand hills
soft with pink
where our winter snow
is summer dust.

Lobed fruits
travel to Wisconsin
in dark holds of ships
unloads like coal
trucks to the grocer
line up like valentines from the sun.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Beauty is something that usually catches me unawares. It may be in the sky, trees, flowers, wind or waves, and it is often fleeting. It can also be permanent, such as in great works of art, architecture, or cultural creations from around the world. Beauty inspires me even if I know (and maybe because) it is destined to deteriorate or disappear. I also find inspiration in the work of others, whether it be a poem, painting, stained glass or any other work of art.


Jan Chronister lives in the woods near Maple, Wisconsin. Her full-length poetry collection Caught between Coasts was recently released by Clover Valley Press. Jan currently serves as president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. More at janchronisterpoetry.wordpress.com .