Evening Poetry, November 30

After Thanksgiving

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.

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