Given to the Frost

By Ann K. Schwader

Given to the frost these autumn colors

long years awaited, months to build & blaze

their gorgeous warning through a countryside

our children will not know. Eternal days

gutter like tapers toward aphelion:

time now for winter shelter, winter ways.

Given to the frost our fragile cities

bright with banners, dance, & brilliant song

offered up in sunlight. Wine flowed gladly

here amid these fountains, where a strong

northern gust whips whitecaps cold as snow

sifting through a season decades long.

Given to the frost vain thoughts of plenty:

uncounted loaves & fishes, crumbs to spare

for all who ride this rock into the exile

our fickle star requires. No mystics there

will multiply a harvest—or create

one extra drop of water, breath of air.

Given to the frost our lost & stateless,

grasshoppers of a summer fading fast

as faces in the nightmares we'll deny

next morning to each other. Past is past,

the dry leaves whisper, drifting deep across

our hatchways locked & sealed & safe at last.


Ann K. Schwader lives, writes, and Corgi-walks in Westminster, CO. Her Lovecraftian sonnet sequence In the Yaddith Time was recently published by Mythos Books. Her work has appeared in Mythic Delirium, Tales of the Unanticipated, Dark Wisdom, and elsewhere, and has received numerous Honorable Mentions in Year's Best Fantasy & Horror. She is a member of SFWA, HWA, and SFPA. You can find more of her work in our archives, in Strange Stars & Alien Shadows, Horrors Beyond, The Weird Sonneteers, Architectures of Night, and Rehearsals for Oblivion (Act 1) or on her website.