to Cath, Christmas 1986


December skies can sometimes bend

Like paper dolls to wrinkled sheets,

Snow clouds doubled end on end

So their opposite directions meet.


Just as scallops on a curtain

Sew dimensions into pleats,

The way the grey wind folds a patter

Into layerings of sleet,


So we scissor shadows into night

And cut out profiles on the sill,

Twisting papers into light

To tie up evening’s frozen grill.


From the border of a page

We trace out sketches, far

Off shapes in thin, beginning stages,

Outlines of a snowflake, doll, or star


That, when crumpled, quartered, and unveiled,

Return like sun from last night’s hail

To fill the room with solar flare

And line the walls with crystal air.