Jennifer Read Hawthorne 


Winter in the Deep South never lasted
more than four days at a time.
Those days, we walked to school
in thin little dresses
covered by thin little coats—
bare legs, bare hands, bare heads—
as if the thought of pants or gloves or hats
might appear concessional,
an invitation for winter to stay.

One day, squeezing my small frame smaller
against the cold, hands numb
clutching books and Cinderella lunchbox,
I made the painful three-block journey
from bus stop to home.
This is the coldest day of my life
and I’m NEVER going to forget it.
The shivery vow burned
into my six-year-old mind.

Awareness looks back,
recognizes itself in that moment,
unchanging thread, child to elder.
Vibrating in the hum of the Eternal,
I feel the cold and laugh.


Fullness is on me
like the taste of watermelon in summer.
My remaining days stretch out
like a carpet of ripe pecans
on the floor of the orchard
behind my grandparents’ house,
each one waiting to be
picked up, cracked open, savored.
No more youthful hunger;
I eat the moonrise over the ocean,
my mouth round with silver.




Jennifer Read Hawthorne is an inspirational keynote speaker, book editor, and author/coauthor of seven books, including the #1 New York Times best sellers Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul. She lives in Vero Beach, Florida, nourished by the ocean and flowering palm trees. She can be reached at