A Winter Journey

The first few lines of this poem are simple, but work so well with the rest of the poem. They create an immediate tension that runs all the way through to the last line. It also fits with the underlying theme of love, suggesting that it can "reel" us into places and situations we never thought we would end up. -Rian Bosse, age 23

There I was, where I hadn't
planned to be: in a new snow
up to my calves, walking north
toward her house. Many times

These lines quickly set up the whole poem with a feeling of self-contradiction. The narrator doesn't want to be in this position, yet he cannot help but follow his "internal compass." -Sarah Branz, age 20

I veered to the west or the east,

Interesting line breaks: “hadn’t / planned” “snow / up” The enjambment really keeps the poem moving forward. -Heather Bulliss, age 21

but some internal compass kept
correcting my direction.

Interesting that this journey is so subconcious that even when he tries not to follow the path, he stays on it somehow. -April Hill, age 14

It was very cold, yet the sky
was mostly clear, with a few
streaks of clouds. Sparrows were

Were” is a strange word to end a line on, but it makes the use of “chittering” even stronger at the beginning of the next line. “Chittering” is a great verb. -Heather Bulliss

chittering in the windbreaks.

I like the word "chittering" as it seems to make the birds talk to each other. -Daisy Hall, age 14

It wasn't until I got to the cattails
at the edge of the lake that I
could see her house, about a mile

“Her” introduces a new character here. The lack of further description of “her” in this stanza creates a tension and mystery. -Heather Bulliss

away on the opposite bank.
I hesitated, not being sure
if the ice would hold.

This, too, adds a lot of tension to the poem. The uncertainty of the ice might allude to coming disaster. -Heather Bulliss
The uncertainty of " I hesitated, not being sure/ if the ice would hold" mirrors the speaker's slippery pursuit of love. -Z.G. Tomaszewski, age 22

I remembered as a boy sliding on

The use of “boy” here alerts us to the speakers current age. Though not a number, we do know a little more about his character. He is not just a child chasing after some crush. -Heather Bulliss

bare spots of snow-covered lakes,
swept by the broom of the wind,
but this time there was only snow.

The flashbacks in the second stanza add depth. Bringing in memories as a boy casts a more personal tone to the poem, allowing the reader to identify with the speaker on a more significant level. -Z.G. Tomaszewski

I imagined the big Northern pike
looming under my boots,

“Looming” is another great verb. -Heather Bulliss

and thought of the one I caught
through the ice a decade ago--
with a hook embedded near its
glassy eye, and about a foot of
snapped line above a leader.
Naturally, the one that got away
and got caught again was
still in my head by the time I
reached out with my mittened

The narrative drifts away from the current scene in order to relay information needed for the “so-what.” -Heather Bulliss

fist to knock on her door,
and then heard her lovely,
perilous voice reeling me in.

The “Northern Pike” from the previous stanza becomes a symbol for the speaker. -Heather Bulliss
That it's set in Winter implies a bareness, something empty, devoid of vitality, or in the end it serves to forecast a cold reception. -Z.G. Tomaszewski
The metaphorical connection between fish and female is simple yet effective. And how interesting that “perilous” is used to describe the woman’s voice. If we re-read the poem again with that word in mind the anxiety which permeates the language and the thoughts of the speaker become much more apparent. I love the idea of certain relationships as being set in course by natural law or fate, even the bad ones. I think we often pursue relationships we know will only end badly because we feel drawn somehow to that person by forces we can’t entirely explain.-Kyle Austin, age 24
The use of “perilous” here does not relieve the tension developed throughout the poem but enhances it. Prior to this point, we think this might be something he wants, something he’s willing to take risks for (walking across the ice, unsure if it can hold), but “perilous” suggests something else. He cannot escape this woman, this desire. He is trapped. He takes the risk not by choice, but because he doesn’t know how not to. -Heather Bulliss
Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.