Less Light As Warning

 First day of winter and afternoon leaves
Early in the day—  shadows lengthen,
Stay longer and longer as chill seizes the air.
Light glances off metal of the blue-gray sky.
Already, I’ve said good-bye to tall oaks, maples,
Shag-bark hickories—together
We wait for winter change to close upon our flanks,
Cover roots as we settle in among white crystal banks.

This year, if ice and snow is as deep as last,
I shall not leave the house, but hibernate
Among the cans of soup all stored away,
Pull white goose-down pillows over my head,
Act as clamshell as I wait for spring.

Old iron rails across the dam look thin as veins
Beside white fences— bones sliding along the road.
Come heavy snow, they mark the boundary
Where plow knows where to go.

My heart shivers like port lantern on a ship,
Illuminates itself tossing through dark night,
Sways in and out of focus, touching heavy mist
Rising from warmer water of the lake….
In early morning light, I rise to
Greet the few remaining geese that choose to wait.
They are fools not to have flung themselves
Against cold winds and headed south,
Lesser light a warning they did not heed.

Now they wait for winter’s inevitable blast…
Vast cold disaster that soon will quietly come
Out of the woods and loom for months—
I pray it will not doom their chance to
Learn another summer.
Will they fly sooner next year?
Will they take the risk of flight
Against feared loss from hunter’s gun or
Hesitate until too late to travel south?


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