We have just returned from our evening walk. The night is crisp, the lights of the city below us sparkling like myriad shards of glass. No one is out this late in the evening. Even the dogs who usually give us a perfunctory bark as we wander by their domain have sufficient sense to be inside with their masters, curled up in front of a fire of smoldering embers. My mind clears of the daily clutter of events, and I recall similar nights walking with my parents and grandparents, the sound of the hard packed snow squeeking beneath the tread of our heels, our breaths coming out in smoky gasps as we talked, consciously and unconsciously intertwining our lives, creating memories which I alone am now left to carry into the future. Feeling as I do, the following poem creates a strong pull I cannot resist sharing with you.
A MIDWINTER LETTER
It has been snowing all morning,
light flakes, none of them ready to rest.
They dance against the gray-green cedars
beyond the window, each snowflake
easy to pick out and follow,
enjoying itself, lifting and gliding,
playing for time against the inevitable.
On the windowsill, a photograph
of my mother at eighty, strong and confident,
blue dress, a simple string of pearls.
With each year she looked more like her father who lived to be nearly one hundred.
Both of them smile at me out of her face
and I can feel others standing behind them.
I lift on their breath and sail on.
– Ted Kooser