Our home contains the world, these days. Not all We love, perhaps, but most and dearest-held Is sheltered safe inside these shabby walls. We hadn’t noticed how our lives had swelled Like springtime floods that, everflowing, rise To overwhelm the riverbanks but won’t Recede again; our floodplain never dries. Diversions tugged relentlessly (they don’t Deserve the time we gave them). Swindled by False urgency, we’d grasped toward each demand. Turns out this busied frenzy was a lie; The only tasks worth doing are at hand. This sudden, unexpected ebb has shown How small, yet rich, our cares should be: our own.
The year’s first snow should look more like the flakes in snowglobes or in Hallmark’s Christmas flicks than this, a dingy slop of wet sleet thick with slush and gross with leaves that lie unraked throughout the yard. Their tannins stain the snow like yellow piss. We’ll have to wait a few more weeks — a month, perhaps — before the truly picturesque snow falls. It will, I know, because it always has before. And when it does, the lamppost in our yard will stretch its charming beams like fingers out to catch and hold each gently falling snowflake. Then the snow (at last, a faultless wintry sight!) will blanket all, like Christ our sins, in white.
There are no graveyards here that want a ghost,
No clapboard churches crowning far-off hills
Whose stones like granite corn rows stretch almost
To where a slate-cold sky meets soil and chills
Our blood with thoughts of Pilgrim bones laid down
Beneath the frost line, safe from fall’s last fell
And skittish breath, which blows before it browning
Autumn leaves to heap in grave-like dells
Where wait old ghosts on crisp New England nights.
No, here belong no poltergeists to spy
And startle from our peace with sudden frights
We weary, footsore souls who wander by.
Here, instead, spring-turned-summer’s splendent rays (As far removed from cold Atlantic glooms As south from north) have long lit tranquil days Where wildflowers — butter-yellow blooms, Or lupine blue, like bonnets — dot vast plains Still somehow green despite the noontime heat. Those wisps might later swell with evening rains To water prairie grasses, long like wheat, But now they simply scuff the sky, too thin To send their shadows racing by, now slow, Now fast, spurred on before some sigh of wind That ripples waves across the fields below.
Yet even here, beneath the shadeless sun’s Benevolent and gently warming face, The headless Hessian’s stallion sometimes runs. Its sudden gallop spooks and puts to chase Scared choirs of startled songbirds from their trees. Then, with withered visage grimaced, tight-drawn, An unexpected specter stoops to seize With grasping, grapnel hands — and then it’s gone. The steadfast sun still shines unfazed, still bright, While we, who half-recall the birdsong, grieve To hear the fading wingbeats of their flight, The skittish scratch of browning autumn leaves.