Jeni Bell (jeniwrites) wrote,
Jeni Bell

Poetry Friday: "Winter," by Tori Amos, and Thoughts on How It Relates to LINGER

"Winter," by Tori Amos (an excerpt)

Snow can wait,
I forgot my mittens.
Wipe my nose,
Get my new boots on.
I get a little warm in my heart
When I think of winter.
I put my hand in my father's glove.
I run off
Where the drifts get deeper.
Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown.
I hear a voice:
"Your must learn to stand up for yourself,
‘Cause I can't always be around."
He says,
“When you gonna make up your mind?
When you gonna love you as much as I do?
When you gonna make up your mind?
‘Cause things are gonna change so fast.
All the white horses are still in bed.”
I tell you that I'll always want you near.
You say that things change, my dear.

Last week, Maggie Stiefvater, author of the best-selling book SHIVER and its sequel, LINGER, posted the playlist for LINGER ( One of the songs—“Winter” by Tori Amos, which Stiefvater says she played while writing chapter 40 of LINGER—is one that I love. If you went to college in the early to mid-90s and were into writing, alternative music, or both, you likely listened to Tori Amos, like I did. This is a song she wrote for her father; you can see a video of a live performance here:

Rather than offer thoughts on how the lyrics of this song apply to chapter 40 of LINGER—which would be unfair to those who haven’t yet read this recently released book—I’d like to offer a few thoughts on how this song could apply to the character of Sam.

In SHIVER, we learn that Beck, Sam’s adoptive father and mentor, has spent years preparing Sam for the day when Beck will no longer be able to shift from his werewolf form back into a human. The house where the wolf pack lives during the summer months, when they are human again; the finances that Beck has tucked away to ensure that the utilities and home are paid for and that the group have enough to live on when they are human; and the leadership of the pack itself will all belong to Sam someday. The lyrics, “I hear a voice: / ‘Your must learn to stand up for yourself, / ‘cause I can't always be around,” remind me of the guidance Beck has given Sam, knowing that he won’t always be there. They make me think of the conversations the two of them must have had when Sam was younger—when he surely wanted to cling to the hope that Beck, who is as close to a father as Sam could have, would be around forever, even though he knew, deep down, that this was an impossible wish.

But now that Sam’s girlfriend, Grace, and her friend Isabel may have found a way to keep him in his human form—forever, they hope—and now that Beck is forever in his wolf form, Sam feels lost. Sam wishes Beck were there to tell him what to do, and to explain why he brought two mysterious new wolves into the pack shortly before Beck changed into his wolf form for the last time. There are also new issues that Sam is dealing with in relation to Grace, who was bitten by wolves as a child, but has never shifted. These issues are “where the drifts get deeper.” Sam and Grace are both wading into new territory in LINGER, and neither of them are certain how to respond. Things are changing fast, for both of them, and if ever there was a time when Sam needed Beck, it’s now.

And as much as Sam is grateful not to be shifting this winter, he still "gets a little warm in his heart when he thinks of winter"--of being part of the pack, whom he loves. He misses the pack, and misses the ability to communicate with them. He steps into the woods, and he can no longer sense when they are near. And there are moments when he'd give anything to have his wolf family close again.

The lines, “When you gonna make up your mind? When you gonna love you as much as I do?” speak both to the love that Beck has for Sam and Grace’s love for him, too. Both are able to provide the unconditional love that Sam’s parents could not; his own parents’ inability to accept him for who he is—boy and wolf—continue to haunt him.

Have you read LINGER? How do you think this song applies to the story?

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