There are no paperwhites on the meadow edge
this time of year; only snow that shimmers
like paperwhite petals in the farewell window
of March’s postponed clemency, dune-blown
with skirt-pretty ripples like someone cared.
Why come out here and think of paperwhites
bent toward a window with their clusters
of cups of six-tricks listening when the deer
are standing on the valley’s facing hill?
The sound of my own voice substitutes
for the voice of God. Here I am. And, of course,
the sudden windscatter on snow like sand
and a few maples clacking. The day dies
and an invisible coydog pack descends
on the fawn of my optimism. The first star
hovers out of nowhere. For courage’s sake,
I think it is as real as a blown flag shadow.
But it could be the spark in air at the end
of a whip on the back of a nightmare.

This poem originally ran in the July & & 14, 2003 issue of the magazine.