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There is a certain kind of lurking power, endemic only to winter forests. A stalking force, standing behind dark trees, lying under frozen streams. It is a black, hulking thing, trudging through snow, leaving footprints where they will be seen, tracks leading further into the frosted heart of the wood. The beast takes solace in the biting cold, finding comfort in the howling wind, the unforgiving snowfall.

It has no shape, no features. It is the white wind and black sky. Its head is weighed down by mighty antlers, countless points tangled in moss, branches, flesh. Its bones are cold stone, covered in black fur, coarse as bark.

It is a formless shade.

It is a four limbed beast, teeth gnashing, claws extended. It is a great tree, limbs stretching high towards the blank sky, roots stretching down forever into the earth. It is a deer, a boar, a squirrel, an animal that ought not be as aggressive as it is, a thing to which killing is alien, yet a thing that radiates hate and death.

It is a man. Adept and at home in the snowy wild. It carries a spear, a net, a bow. It hunts. Maybe you, maybe all the other scared things. Maybe anything it can track. Man and beast bleed the same. Scream the same. Die the same.

He is the gale, the violent storm that tears down trees, hurls boulders, chokes the living under immeasurable weights of snow. He is the tyrant successor, murderer of weak autumn.

She is the still, the silence of undisturbed snow, untouched even by the wind. The distant songs and calls of an unseen bird, too far away and much too close. She is the unforgiving matriarch, only to be undone by a surreptitious spring.

At its heart, it is cold. A gnawing, biting cold. A piercing, throbbing pain. The cold that stays with you long after you have gotten away from it. Those deep crystals of ice that stay frozen within you, never thawing. A cold that blackens limbs and drives men mad. Frozen, white hot fire.

There is a certain kind of lurking power, endemic only to winter forests, and it will follow you out.

-Excerpt from Mónos’s First Collection of Cantripped Poetry and Seasonal Psychopomp Rituals.

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