Winter’s Nail


Winter like a crushing hand, like a fist, like a weight on my shoulders, on the house, the hills, the sky.

Winter unending.

Storms bred from a nest in the hills. You could see them swirling out and screaming down from the northeast and it was so cold the snow hit the window like drifting sand. The world was buried deep. In the predawn darkness I woke to find the door snowed shut one morning. Eight feet of snow had blown into a cornice over the front step and sifted down so the front door was buried. I had to climb out the window and dig a tunnel, then break the tunnel roof in and dig again until I had a blue-white walled trench to the front door.


March came, and then April, and still it snowed. Something had to be done. I determined to trap the spirit of winter.

I began carving a suitable vessel from the root of a tree. As I carved winter began to subside, the clouds cleared away, it stopped snowing. As I forged nine spikes of pattern-welded steel from nine sword blades, the ice began to melt. As I finished the mace I saw that it was bone white. I named it winter’s nail.

Out the open door of my forge I could hear a hermit thrush singing… I had captured it— hard edged grim-faced winter.

But now the nights were too hot…

(click on the thumbnail to see a slideshow)


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Jake Powning

Jake is a professional swordsmith, artist, and writer who explores the strange place where traditional culture and the land meet.


  1. Beautiful, and forlorn, and terrifying.

  2. A harrowing capture of Winter’s menace. Truly inspired.

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