Every year, the tenth month comes
two months late.
Typical, in this flawed world.
For you and I, the start of winter,
here, hours north of Boston,
marks the season of cold, cracked fingers,
paling skin,the comfort of soup and bread, the reading
of elongated shadows on decimated streets.
We stare at huddled figures, join
the communion gatherings in church and pub,
watch the indeterminate wildlife padding across sleepy fields.
With easy indifference, the falling snow banks itself
against any kind of resistance.
You light candles in the early dark of day
that slides into the dark of night.
We sit close and watch as the flames speak
in tongues, a glossolalia of dreams and sorrows
flickering the mysteries of love and need.
A slow dance of fact and longing,
intuition winking at the physics of wonder.
As the flames flame and the wax drips
and pools and cools, we speak of the future
and the past and the dead, and drink too much,
and dizzy ourselves to sleep, trying not
to contemplate the nothingness of not living.
In this lonely kind of tired,
you say, I wish I’d worry less
and be curious more this time of year.
By December’s end, the light of the sun
returns in the smallest increments.
A few seconds is all. But they feel precious.
So we call it a start, and once again wait
for the seed catalog to arrive and lift
our spirits to every bright thing we find there.
Unstill Life with Hospital Cup
I have twenty stray thoughts
in the time it takes him
to cock his head back,
take another sip of water
from the hospital cup.
Afterward, he exhales the
smallest never-mind sigh.
He closes his eyes.
I put the cup back on the table,
next to the tissues and the book
he’ll never finish. My father
once thought he’d die
thrashing in the sea among
sinking warships, shattered planes,
broken bodies, and a frenzy of sharks.
Out the window, spring is
opening its soft palms to the world.
A young deer bends and drinks,
its tail flicking like some drunken clock
impatiently timing the passing clouds.
Michael Brosnan lives in Exeter, New Hampshire. His most recent poetry book is The Sovereignty of the Accidental (Harbor Mountain Press, 2018). A second book, ADRIFT (Grayson Books), is due out in 2022. His poems have appeared in numerous journals in the U.S. and elsewhere. He’s also the author of Against the Current, a book on inner-city education, and serves as the senior editor for the website Teaching While White.