Advent

Month of slate gray skies
& the religious promise
of snow. Every morning
we wake to a world
drained of color, both of us
a little older,
a little less comfortable
with the view of hills
assembled beyond the window
like an old man’s knuckles.

Our breath clears a space
in the frost. Together,
we watch as autumn
wears to a thin edge.
For weeks we’ve cleared
the wide fields, cut back
frail limbs on the fruit trees.
Bramley apples, Portugal quinces
all gathered & darkening now
in the cellar, piled in wicker
baskets, each one a province
spared from the season’s hardness.

A little light elbows
its way through
the peeling limbs
of the sycamore, blackbirds
fret the powerlines.
It’s cold. The days are short,
close to the bone.
It’s become a question
of our hold on things.
We could rise up like plainsong
through the hayfields
in the last frayed hours of daylight.
We know that weather itself
is a form of worship.

 

The Weather This Morning

The weather this morning makes me think
I’ve wakened in one of those countries
where the women are seen
walking out of a cloud of blackbirds
carrying apronfuls of geese:
the women are heartless,
the necks of the geese sway like tulips.

The point is:
it’s fine weather for slaughter
Not so much because it’s cold
but because all I can see
is snow, snow that’s fattened
the valley’s hungriest fields.

The clouds are showing up now,
one by one, like the curious
at a public spectacle.
I think of my uncle, lame,
who dragged one leg behind him
in perpetual hesitation,
facing off the stares of bystanders
as he hurdled grotesquely
through kneedeep snow.

The ability to remain unmoved
by the most commonplace cruelty—
that’s what weather teaches.
You know how on some mornings
snow will spread beyond
its own comprehension,
how it remains blameless, hushed,
its depth
simply an aspect of repose.

 

Blur

I can’t say why rain
lisping on a tin roof
has kept me awake so late—

the glimmer on things,
a streetlight’s broken path
into the darkness—

no word from the other side.
This afternoon as I listened
to the faint reeds

of some water, bird singing
to its shadow, I sensed
how the self can stalk its double

and still look on, moved.
Meanwhile the rain here repeats
its fine print, a wavy

script on the window,
in some places beads
holding their own light.