by Sandra M. Gilbert
Lord, as Rilke says, the year bears down toward winter, past
the purification of the trees, the darkened brook.
Only 4:45, and the sky’s sheer black
clasps two clear planets and a skinny moon
as we drive quietly home from the airport,
the last kid gone.
The time of preparation’s over, the time of
harvesting the seed, the husk, the kernel, saving
what can be saved–weaves of sun like
rags of old flannel, provident peach stones,
pies, pickles, berry wines to
hold the sweetness for a few more months.
Now the mountains will settle into their old
cold habits, now the white
birch bones will rise
like all those thoughts we’ve tried to repress:
madness of the solstice, phosphorescent
logic that rules the fifteen-hour night!
Our children, gorged, encouraged, have taken off
in tiny shuddering planes. Plump with stuffing,
we too hurry away, holding hands, holding on.
Soon it’ll be January, soon snow will
shuffle down, cold feathers, swathing us in
inches of white silence–
and the ways of the ice
will be narrow, delicate.
You can find this poem on poetryfoundation.org.