by Jane Kenyon
How long the winter has lasted—like a Mahler
symphony, or an hour in the dentist’s chair.
In the fields the grasses are matted
and gray, making me think of June, when hay
and vetch burgeon in the heat, and warm rain
swells the globed buds of the peony.
Ice on the pond breaks into huge planes. One
sticks like a barge gone awry at the neck
of the bridge….The reeds
and shrubby brush along the shore
gleam with ice that shatters when the breeze
moves them. From beyond the bog
the sound of water rushing over trees
felled by the zealous beavers,
who bring them crashing down…. Sometimes
it seems they do it just for fun.
Those days of anger and remorse
come back to me; you fidgeting with your ring,
sliding it off, then jabbing it on again.
The wind is keen coming over the ice;
it carries the sound of breaking glass.
And the sun, bright but not warm,
has gone behind the hill. Chill, or the fear
of chill, sends me hurrying home.
“Walking Alone in Late Winter” by Jane Kenyon from The Boat of Quiet Hours. © Graywolf Press, 1986.