Mistral (Provencal): strong, cold winds that blow down the Rhône Valley and through Southern France.
A hollow whisper in the night
Precedes the whistling, cutting breeze
That makes dogs cower and birds take flight.
At dawn the once-surging lake is seized
In icy sheets by the northern wind
Which spreads the frost like a chilling disease.
The trees are first to succumb: they bend
Toward the ground with a creaking wail
That echoes their pitiless, violent end.
Men too are conquered by the gale
Which whips their skin until enflamed.
They retreat indoors, uneasy and frail.
But, still desperate to humble and tame,
Men lessen the wind by giving it a name.
Kate Slavens is a senior at the University of Evansville, majoring in English and French. She attended the inaugural Southwell Writers Workshop and has published poems in The Evansville Review and the first issue of Measure.
First published in Measure, Volume 2 (2007)