The 20th Century philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset, held this philosophical phrase to be at the core of his beliefs. “Yo soy yo, y mi circunstancias” “I am I, and my surroundings.” When I moved away from rural Wisconsin, my realtor found a suitable home for my wife and me, and I unexpectedly found myself on the northern edge of St. Paul, Minnesota’s Como Park , a mile from where I was raised, on the southern edge. I know Como Park’s geography more intimately than any other on earth. My childhood, my adolescence, and my early days of fatherhood were spent here. These poems are from an unpublished collection of poems written about my Como Park home, the park surroundings and my inner geography. – Timothy Young
WALKING AROUND THIN ICE
–Yo soy yo, y mi circunstancias- José Ortega y Gasset
The temperature has fallen sixty degrees
in a week. It’s still snowing
as we walk around the lake
and there’s no one else on our circuit.
A foot of snow fell on the thin ice,
which can’t hold the weight.
Cracked ice waters the snow from below
and tomorrow the slush will freeze.
The park was never so beautiful.
Every tree is cloaked in snow.
The chill is real, but an inner fire
melts the raw snow from our cheeks.
Until that fire goes out,
we’ll keep walking in storms,
for we love one another
and these natural extremes.
Our love is like water.
It changes things.
It changes us and it changes
THE FINAL TWO WEEKS
The spindly spruce looks so small
on its side in the snow.
For two weeks, lights, baubles and beads
adorned it for Christmas.
That tree grew in the woods my father
bought, then sold to his sons.
In October he shriveled in his bed
for two weeks before he died.
His children, grandchildren,
swarmed him with kisses,
laughter, smiles and tears.
Now the frost on the spruce boughs
reminds me of his whiskers,
and his cheeks, which I rubbed
as the morticians rolled him away.
INTO THE FUR OF THE INNER VOICE
Sometimes it’s important
to pray in the place where you
once played at the wild life….
your bony knee on the snow,
the cold snow on the lake’s ice,
your face toward the sky.
A lone ice fisherman sits
on an overturned bucket.
His line drops into the black
hole beside his toboggan.
This isn’t loneliness. It’s how
another man prays in winter.
On this shore the willow is naked,
but the fisherman is bulky,
a black triangle on hard water.
Beyond him is the shore
where my hard life turned
toward the furry voice inside.
Beyond that shore
in the empty fountain,
inside a green storage crate
a naked, copper nymph
holds her cornucopia.
Maybe she’s praying for spring.
The raw cold under my chin
and against my open neck
isn’t bad. There’s a joy in it.
Like sledding on the snow hills,
or skating across Como Lake
after Sunday afternoon hockey,
after the figure skaters’ flirtations,
or years later, after lumber work
in the Pine County forests.
Tonight, joy comes swiftly
as I stroll with my wife,
in our cold and reverent city.