Warm by Norma Hawthorne Shafer
On 03/20/2015 | 0 Comments
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Editor’s note: We asked Minerva Rising contributors to respond to this great prompt from
“January and February can be harsh months for most parts of the world. The wind howls over the frozen ground, through bare branches and near-deserted streets, fogged windows blurred as though forming a barrier to keep the icy world at bay. On days like these, how do you kindle the fire inside of you? What keeps you going, warms your spirits, and insulates you from the creeping chill? Write a blog response to this. Or, write a poem, fiction or creative nonfiction to serve as kindling—with the power to comfort and warm your heart.”

Here’s our last contributor response on this topic — and how fitting, as today is the first day of spring!



Warm is how I feel eating chocolate. Each piece is

Beautifully wrapped in colored tinsel.

I savor the moment before selecting the one.

Feel the juices in my mouth ready. Carefully, I

Remove the sharp crinkly package,

Roll it between my palms into a hard ball.

Discard it.


Warm is when I bury myself deep beneath the down comforter.

Pull the edges tight over my forehead to keep out a bitter chill.  Sweat pours

And I cannot regulate between hot and cold,

Kick off the covers, then wrap them over me like

I’m wrestling with demons.

I am wet and my fingers seek the place where we came

Together for the first time.


Warm is the flutter of a beating heart taking wing,

Fast, lifting me so that I soar beyond the clouds, caught in

A dream world high above earth where perspective is

Obscured by shadows and the glow of a full moon.

Who knew those wings would not carry me the distance

And the man would disappear like the chocolate dissolving

In my mouth.


Time out.  Who am I kidding? What did I expect?

A Barbie Doll marriage promise of happily ever after.

In real life it can happen like this:

Two people come together, make promises they intend to keep.

They dissolve, slowly at first, like a perfectly wrapped sweet

After you peel away the shiny tinsel and insert the whole

In your eager mouth.


First it is firm, solid. It will be there to taste for a long time

You think. Your tongue moves it around

To savor the deliciousness.  Solid becomes

Sludge, a soft, destructible melting away

That slides down your throat heavy, warm

Until that moment when there is

Only one taste left.


Warm is intense Oaxaca sun. This is my new home

Where I escape winter, escape past, take a new name, try to

Be a strong, self-reliant, determined and still hopeful woman.

I wonder what complete means. A man at my side like they said in the story,

Like my mother told me, and her mother before her.

How do women do it, sustain a

Marriage for a lifetime.


I turn my face north away from the sun

In self-protection. Sun burns

And penetrates skin, Exposes soul. Opens old wounds.

In this house we built together,

I live alone. Careful, I remind myself, cancers are

Not easy to detect and

Time is unknowing.


Warm chocolate. Taste the

Dark richness, feel it melt in

The heat of my mouth, stick to my

Hot tongue. Waste away.

Moments ago a balm, now the bitter residue

Coats my cheeks, bringing up a deep craving

Yet to be filled.


Norma Hawthorne Shafer writes and photographs from a small indigenous Oaxaca, Mexico village where she lives most of the year. Her blog, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC (, offers commentary, arts workshops and a July 2015 Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat.  Her home base in the U.S. is Graham, North Carolina. Norma’s work, “In the Eyes of Mother,” can be found in Issue 4: Mothers.

Photo by: Morgan Sessions

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