We step together from the porch
into late winter’s violetting dark.
About us, February flurries its snow
smatter, veil looping blued drifts
piled against the bridge-rail. Freezing waters
flex below to an avalanche of falls.
We fall silent in the river’s hush. Stand
isolated, chill, in the brilliant hush of snow.
Once, these woods summered us in green.
Now alder’s frost-bowed, weighted under white.
The lone dipper exercises joint by stiff joint,
bobbing on a black rock compromised in ice.
Overhead, in perilous geometry,
Ponderosas plunge to a frozen halt.
Snags seared by lightning thrust snow-blind.
Mauls of wind crack everything apart.
You move away, to crumbling river’s-edge.
I shiver on a ledge of cold.
But then, above, across the shut sky,
paired geese wing and cry here, home.
You turn, we turn to each other through the dark,
while snow shadows land, water, rock
to essential bones: each tree its ladder, bird
its scarf of song. Each branch its load of beauty.
Our hands a bridge to cross the coming night.
This poem first appeared in Clackamas Literary Review (Spring 1998).
Used here with the author’s permission.