At the close of this most diminished day
comes moonrise over Brakenhurst
whose birches sigh in their nakedness
while the valley shrinks into intimacy.
Lamps are lit and on the dissipating smoke
of a half-mile of home fires, bitter as snuff
climb the terrors and regrets of the old
and the faint, muted hopes of the new.
The year, in brief recess, limps, atrophied
shortened breath barely perceived
on a microbe-incubating airstream
toward the cusp of a longed-for springtime.
This is neither gelid blast nor Jack Frost nip
once anticipated with a braggart’s certainty
but a deceitful southerly whiff, spurious
barely cool to the touch, confounding nature.