It’s a gray time of year when the year turns,
a dull time for reflection or summing up.
Heavy clouds lid the sky. New years really
begin with the spring. The old year dies now;
the next months, while endured, hardly exist.
In front of the sacred bookstore someone
carved a Buddha of snow. The snow-Buddha,
with muffler of rose-colored silk, will melt,
proving ephemeral things of the Earth, works
of our hands.
I probe the house pulling calendars from the walls.
Newly obsolete, my appointment book holds
the history of my year: hopeful meetings,
wasted interviews, a concert when time
for a moment stood still. The years
get archived neatly with the tax returns.
In the long, cold night we fight for the bed
covers. I shiver till I yank an edge loose.
I lie awake, planning projects that may never
happen. Meanwhile I work, commute,
compile these pages for future reference.
You think you’re climbing through wilderness
but on the other side of the forest you find
a house or a highway. As kids we played games
of war and exploration where the houses
weren’t yet built at the top of the hill.
We still want to imagine being the first
to step somewhere. But even our dreams
are listed in a book. I am, I want to cry—
no one’s been here before!
Outside the cottage a winter mix falls,
a granola of snow and ice. It’s warm inside
at 2 a.m. A flashlight gets me to the bathroom
without stumbling. How happy I am!
Protected from the sleet and snow pelting
the roof, alone in the shadows, silent as a cat
I return to bed. The dim circle of light
holds off the night. I turn it off to sleep.