The chickens rise with the sun

but do not venture into the uniform white –

there is no more earth to scratch.


The farmer’s breath is taken with the violent

gust wrapping its arms around her, into her.

Matted hair and flushed cheeks

her face weeps without sadness.

Or for the brilliance of the day:

the muted voice of the land

the afterthought of a tree on the horizon,

weeping, too, against the north wind.


As darkness befalls the hill

snow-cover lightens the early dusk.

Nebulae wink from a perfect crest

above the barn

to halt even the most self-absorbed.

A moment too long in the cold

just to look on beyond the boots

and the frozen muck, up to the Greater.

Bighting, writhing frigidity

(there aren’t enough words to describe)

eats through layers

of wool and other fiber

to find its way up her belly and down her neck.

The farmer must smash the goat’s ice bucket

with a hammer just to be lashed

by the shrieking water beneath.

Every day twice a day

she breaks the ice but the hole

gets smaller.


A lone wood stove burns through these dark nights

the embers glow long

in the farmer’s blush.