on my father's death  


January skies can bend

At times like wrinkled paper sheets,

Snow clouds doubled end on end

So their opposite directions meet.


Just as scallops on a drape

Form dimension from a pleat,

The way the cold wind makes a shape

Out of layerings of sleet,


So we scissor shadows into night

And cut out profiles on the sill,

Twisting patterns into white

Beside the window's frozen grill.


From the border of a page

We trace out sketches, far

Off lives in thin, beginning stages,

Outlines of a father, flake, or star


That we delicately unfold to show,

Sprung like rime from last night's snow,

And hang up finally on the stair

To line the walls with earthen air.