Uncertain April afternoon:
swallows at least know to build nests
in the moulding beneath the eaves,
staving off the false labor of season.
I want to think we're safe now
from the tangle of birth-life-death
in early spring--but who can tell?
Perhaps the yard maples can, strewing
feathery red flowers on greening grass,
gift to the earth which throws back
wormy scents of warmth and wet.
These broad trunks have lived here longest,
their roots burrow deepest:
perhaps they know best
when to send sap reaching
toward a particular slant of sun,
a particular bell-like blue of sky.
Once again safely ensconced in
the yellow room for Christmas,
I look out through frosted storm windows
at the orchard on the hillside, bare gnarled branches
bowed toward the frozen ground.
It has begun to snow: heavy flakes
falling purposefully to silver over
the waves of dead grass.
The world tonight is turning slowly
to the new year, and at the window
I watch a haloed moon rise,
and think of you with a quiet joy
that lives and glows like the star of wonder,
radiating from beneath my ribs.
If there are angels out there
in this cold December evening,
they sing to the converted—and to
that fox, flashing among
the bony arms of sleeping apple trees,
white-tipped tail aloft, a solitary flame.