Poem of the Week–A Prompting in Winter (Prince’s Cove)

A Prompting in Winter (Prince’s Cove)

The sand is frozen in the hourglass,
and if this is the day the sailboat is trapped,
moored a hundred yards from shore

and if this is the sign — the ebb tide, ice-bound,
leaning slab by white slab, like dominos,
dry stacked on the boat ramp,

when your dog sniffs a chain
padlocked to the scarred piling, and the
stench of gutted fish clinging to the dock

releases in you a raging sense
of theft         of loss         of the unspent life of a woman —
then this is the time.

The midwives are the blazing sunrise and
the sounds        crack         crack
like a rifle shot, echoing loud in the cove.

Wary of hunters,
you seek your dog, all golden and familiar,
who sits unfazed, intuitive about these things:

it’s the ice that’s causing the commotion,
it’s the ice breaking the rule of winter’s prey
— to lie still, to feign death —

so far out of the realm of possibility
because its essence
is flow.

This is something you aspire to
so you chant your fear
inside a labyrinth of half shells

and before your verve depletes,
before your day is wracked with shoulds
will you emerge out of the frozen —

lit with the dawn and
glinting in silver
when the wild geese call?

Diane McDonough
Cape Cod Branch, MA


  1. Susan Webb says:

    This poem takes my breath away. It encapsulates last winter’s freeze but so much more than that! This poet “emerges out of the dawn lit with silver…” So well done,

  2. Wow! Rich with imagery! A poem I wish I had written!

  3. Diane, I loved your imagery and the way the poetry wrapped itself around the images in “A Prompting In Winter (Prince’s Cove)” Ronni Miller

  4. Well done. I felt the silent loneliness of a boatyard in the dead of winter,the loud echo of ice cracking, and the silence that follows. Our lives experience the’ loud crack of change’ that send us in a new direction on our life journeys. Thank you!

  5. Love this poem. On the Cape beach yesterday there were huge blocks of frozen snow on the sand and floating free in the water.
    Love the images and nice to see a Cape Cod poet represented.
    Thanks, Diane.

  6. Brilliant!

  7. This poem is powerful and particularly potent as we experience the coldest winter on the East coast in years.. actually setting records. But please note, Cape Cod is in Mass. not California! The visual is east coast. The intuitive is every woman.

  8. I particularly like this poem for the way it progresses from what seems like idyll observation of winter to a an emotional connection with deeper feelings.