Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Heads Up poetry column: First Snow

Vol. 37 No. 01 Jan/Feb 2020

FIRST SNOW

After the long red warning of maples

it is still a surpise attack, the hordes

sweeping in at night, and at dawn

riding the shadows

as we lie in the shelter of blankets,

in the summer blood of our loving,

and feel the old terror of time

freezing the land.

The outer walls are abandoned,

the same every year, the flowers

frozen; we dig in behind the storm windows,

remembering noon in the hazy

shimmer of cornfields,

remembering noon with aspens

and faraway bells—

but each year the losses: the old ones,

limping off to their dim consummation,

tell us fear is a small brown mouse

come in from the cold to chew

at the belly nerves,

and it touches us now, the truth

of the whole gray assault: it is war

to the ultimate cold

  as we lie in the shelter of blankets,

in the summer blood of our loving,

and feel the old terror of time

freezing the land.

(New and Selected Poems, 1956-1996)