This morning at the farms along the road

Twelve wild turkeys on their barnyard tour lumber from the woods
a haphazard file of sumptuous brown bodies pulled by naked heads and red chins
across the farmhouse lawn to the spot where chicken feed lies scattered every morning
they begin determined digging

Five black-and-white spotted cows and a brown sprawl on the thick hay pile that rises
from the snow and two more sleep standing with early spring sun heating their backs
one lying at the edge wakes and chews turning her large white-patched eye
to watch the foot traffic

Four horses stand under thick red blankets munching hay
heads bent to the ground and tails rarely twitching as it is still too cool
for bugs but even in the safety of the yard their lead mare lifts her brown head
and flares her nose watching long minutes for threats from across the field

Two black furry puppies with floppy ears and strong short legs
bark and run fast and free of any fear almost tripping
down the hill to waggle their muscular bodies in a yipping welcome
of a friend climbing the path

One cinnamon Labrador falls to the battered wooden floor of the old milk house
rhythmically thumping her tail on the boards and baring her belly for a long rub
she lifts her head for a close and steady gaze
licking the wrist of the hand that pats her

Two young huskies lie behind their fence breathing the cold air after their second
morning walk and five horses in the next field look up at the sound of footsteps on the road
at a passing shadow a chipmunk darts into the stone fence while the red squirrel
chats a warning from high in the bare maple

In the house a ladybug clinging at the water line sips from the cats’ bowl
bread cooling on the counter fills the air with its light baked yeasty smell
the eggs are washed and gleaming in their soft shades of brown and green
the world proceeds with its small rituals

~~~

This hush

Late-winter evening, a light snow,
6:30 on the first day
after the clocks spring ahead

standing on the road below my house
surrounded by fields, woods
and a profound quiet

my ears throb with stillness and a faint ring
from the city traffic I’ve left behind
for minutes no other sound comes by

I listen beneath soft flakes
in a luminous glow
of muted afternoon sun on snow

then solitary barking carries over far fields
brief squawking rises from the trees
down the long trail of the road

around the bends
an engine slowly draws near
and yet I hear

this
hush

~~~

Five Reasons to Love the Long Nights of Winter

This poem is one I wrote maybe a decade ago, but it still expresses something important to me about the beauty, peace, and comfort of this time of year.

Ellen Symons

After a bright afternoon’s quickening light
To be cradled by dusk,
Its slowly sit-down darkening

To contemplate the softening outline of the old cat
Curled warm on your grey-trousered lap

To watch the women and men with briefcases and backpacks
Walk from the bus toward darkened houses

To see a glow appear here or there and know
The tired homecomings have begun

To unravel the mysteries of your heart
That can only be glimpsed when the busy sun
Pulls up its thick shadows
And the arms of the evening encompass all

____________________

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Ark

All night the wind filled with snow howls against our walls.
What happens to the animals,
or people still outside
I do not know.

Small ship on a vast ocean our house sails alone through the gale.
Carries us fretting to the borders of morning,
the furnace and the radio
land ahoy.

~~~

IMG_20160216_155821

One by one,

One by one,
winter lifts its long fingers from the deep freeze
where they have grown, collecting crystals
month by month

with its diamond file
sharpens them precisely then slips out to
test an edge on the skin of our necks
and back it goes

sitting in the shimmering dark
wearing the glimmer of a smile
as it hones and shapes, and the wind
comes calling

~~~