By e.e. cummings
may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old
may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
for even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young
and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile
By Joyce Sutphen
My father climbs into the silo.
He has come, rung by rung,
up the wooden trail that scales
that tall belly of cement.
It’s winter, twenty below zero,
He can hear the wind overhead.
The silage beneath his boots
is so frozen it has no smell.
My father takes up a pick-ax
and chops away a layer of silage.
He works neatly, counter-clockwise
under a yellow light,
then lifts the chunks with a pitchfork
and throws them down the chute.
They break as they fall
and rattle far below.
His breath comes out in clouds,
his fingers begin to ache, but
he skims off another layer
where the frost is forming
and begins to sing, “You are my
sunshine, my only sunshine.”
by Marge Piercy
Three feet of snow in twenty-four hours
on top of seven inches. Not really
credible here. On the fourth day
we found the car under a six
foot drift and dug it out.
At first we could not open doors.
The post office shut for two days.
Our road had vanished into a field.
We felt the sky had finally
fallen and drowned us.
Six weeks: now patches of ground
emerge from white fortresses.
How beautiful is the dirt
I took for granted. Extraordinary
the wild green of grass islands.
Having the world snatched
from us makes us grateful even
for fence posts, for wheelbarrow
rising, for the stalwart spears
of daffodil uncovered.
Everything revealed is magical,
splendid in its ordinary shining.
The sun gives birth to rosebushes,
the myrtle, a snow shovel fallen,
overcome on the field of battle.
By Anne Porter
On a clear winter’s evening
The crescent moon
And the round squirrel’s nest
In the bare oak
Are equal planets.
By Linda Gregg
Two horses were put together in the same paddock.
Night and day. In the night and in the day
wet from heat and the chill of the wind
on it. Muzzle to water, snorting, head swinging
and the taste of bay in the shadowed air.
The dignity of being. They slept that way,
knowing each other always.
Withers quivering for a moment,
fetlock and the proud rise at the base of the tail,
width of back. The volume of them, and each other’s weight.
Fences were nothing compared to that.
People were nothing. They slept standing,
their throats curved against the other’s rump.
They breathed against each other,
whinnied and stomped.
There are things they did that I do not know.
The privacy of them had a river in it.
Had our universe in it. And the way
its border looks back at us with its light.
This was finally their freedom.
The freedom an oak tree knows.
That is built at night by stars.
by Marcus Jackson
To the furnace—tall, steel rectangle
containing a flawless flame.
gliding through ducts, our babies
asleep like bundled opal.
every furry grain of every
warm hour, praise each
deflection of frost,
praise the fluent veins, praise
the repair person, trudging
in a Carhartt coat
to dig for leaky lines, praise
the equator, where snow
is a stranger,
praise the eminent sun
for letting us orbs buzz around it
like younger brothers,
praise the shooter’s pistol
for silencing its fire by
reason of a chilly chamber
praise our ancestors who shuddered
through winters, bunched
on stark bunks,
praise the owed money
becoming postponed by a lender
who won’t wait
much longer in the icy wind,
praise the neon antifreeze
in our Chevrolet radiator,
and praise the kettle whistle,
imitating an important train,
these steam-brimmed sips of tea.