Late afternoon, sunlight washing across the snow
through the bare maples, the ragged locust
the fieldstone walls –
today my father feeling his age,
his energy swiftly ebbing, so he said,
though he walks and works as always
I walked alone down to the pond
the deer carcass on the ice now gnawed
down to fur and rib-cage
across to the hedgerow, the brambles,
a few shafts of light seeping down
from the rise, undulant on the white
I hop the wall into the cemetary
say hi to Gramps and Grandma Alice
wander the crunchy crust among the veterans
each with their small flag illuminated
in respectful silence
and the oldest stones now illegible
lines of poetry trailing off into lichens,
some who lived through nearly all
of the nineteenth century
now fallen from their small base
and lying in the snow; others still spiffy
and honored with plastic flowers and bunnies.
Later, from the picture window we saw
a grey fox loping south, pausing now and then
to listen for mice under the crust of the snow.
Addendum: 3:00 am, January 23rd
The dividing line – infinitely thin, intolerably bright –
the mind's unknowable event horizon
the fox skimming over the snow's crust...
Three lines to sum up life and death?
Could be sheer gall, a thumb in God's eye;
could be mere courage, laughter in our marrow.