The snow stuns the sky into quiet

only the lake understands,

restive beyond the gray stone breakwater.

Across the street, my neighbor knows

a green hope weaves a wooden trellis

over a fresh-powdered walk, his jacket,

a plaid patch on the shed doorknob.

His brown daughter sprouts bud breasts

under her sweatshirt; twirls tendrils

of dark braids, then steadies the plank

with both hands as her eyes follow

his hammer's arc.


                       In her, I am twelve

again, New Year's Eve: my mother and I

sleep early”she, in their pink room,

I where my brother and I share bunks,

walls not repainted pre-war blue

when we move in, little floor space

for second-hand chairs, desks,

chests-of-drawers. Weak springs

give as sheets twine her ankles.

Pillowing in premature wishes,

we fear silver bullets

in my neighbor's pistol, his bayou way

of killing earthbound ghosts

when the old year dies,


                     and so it goes.

The last slats nailed in place,

the girl trails her father into a house

aflame with saffron light of melting snow,

holy surprise getting past the silence.

A nighthawk perches sideways in the ash

like a bundle of wet leaves, unfurls

her wings, then lifts into air

I thought too cold for flight.