A Tonic for February’s Woes

February from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry by the Limbourg Brothers

O, give me a tonic,

some potion of yours

to carry me off on the back of dreams,

for I am weary of this life

and its work.

Promises of paradise

hold nothing for me

as I toil, knee deep in winter’s froth.

What repose,

what recompense,

do we see?

A moment to warm ourselves by the fire


though not long enough

to deliver our souls.

There is no good

that will come from complaints;

my Lord would ask me

“Did you not enjoy the merrymaking

of Yuletide and the New Year?”

And it is true; I did.

But those are the faded memories

of two months past,

though it feels like two years

and memories do not warm

one’s bones nor dry one’s clothes.

* * *

The artist peered intently through the window by his desk. Windows obscured the view; their uneven collection of round pieces made it particularly difficult for detailed work, but the severity of the weather prevented his working outside. Even inside, he had to stop every few minutes to blow heat into his hands. The cold dampness of February seeped through the stone walls, past layers of winter clothes, and burrowed deep into his bones.

Blinking and squinting at the forms moving in the snow outside, he added imagined details, small and intricate, to the velum before him. Engrossed in what he saw, or thought he saw, it never occured to him to think about his subjects’ discomfort. They were his subjects – at times grotesque, most often intriguing – but nothing more than that.

He hoped the lord would find his depiction on February pleasing.


So I’m a few days late in posting for this week’s now-finished Grammar Ghoul writing challenge, but here’s my piece anyway. Thanks to Grammar Ghoul for the great prompts (the word “tonic” and the painting above).


4 thoughts on “A Tonic for February’s Woes

  1. Thank you, Jenn. I wrote it in the midst of a crazy work week and though I started with a clear vision, in the end I sort of lost it. Still, I wanted to post it just because. Appreciate the comment 🙂

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