Christmas Eve

ski trailThis afternoon
as flakes of powder
buried the Nativity scene
in the front yard
I shovelled
a deep canyon, white
to the road.

Now dusk advances
and firelight dances back and forth
across cherry-panelled walls.
Enormous Norway branches
stretch colored constellations
across the room
above a drift of packages.

Silence is interrupted only by
the occasional shifting of glowing embers.
Looking out, I see that
my boot prints have been lost
in approaching darkness, drift and
accumulation.

Earlier today I went skiing
through the pine woods behind the slough
and through the sloping meadow.
After descending Swanson’s hill,
I paused to look behind me —
above my solitary tracks
which sliced the pale earth,
motionless pines stood alone
against the grey, snow-heralding sky.
My ears grasped for the fading song of the chickadee,
but it was gone,
and the stillness enveloped me.

I felt required to remain in the quiet,
as if the moment would last while I stood still.
But I felt my wool socks soaked with melting snow
so I decided to move,
to return to the house and
to light the fire and
to ssee if the mail had come.

Now night has arrived
and the fire has burnt itself grey.
The meadow is still quiet, I imagine.

I go to bed early; tomorrow will find the house busy.

from the collection Only Say the Word

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