Today's poem is by Philip Levine

The Gift of Winter

The alder outside my window
motionless, the forsythia
holding its breath, the last smear

of fog burnt away so the day
can enter the long memory
of winter, clear and uncorrupted.

Twelve years old, I tramped the back alleys
searching for something I couldn't
name or describe and found cinders

jeweled with tiny points of light
that cut; I found handwritten,
scented letters, gifts from the future,

their words frozen in the weather—
"Paola, there is never a right time,"
in a straight, manly hand that collapsed

from exhaustion. There were trees there too,
a row of tattered Chinese elms
to shade the past year's garbage,

a fenced-in copper beech thicker
than a Pontiac, its leafless
branches stiffening in the wind.

There was always that wind, unnamed,
defiant, whistling in the face
of February and not this odd calm

outside my window and closing in.
Even when the final blizzard whited
out the old neighborhoods

there was always new life
aching to break through and nothing
I could do to stop it.

Copyright © 2006 Philip Levine All rights reserved
from Fugue
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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