Long Winter Shadows

Page from the book “Adventures in Science with Bob and Don” by Harry Carpenter, Guy Bailey and Bernice Stroetzel (Allyn and Bacon, 1940). Our recent blizzard-weather finds me anxiously anticipating solstice! It is good to know that we are almost at the turning point — just eleven more days.  After that, each day will deliver a few extra moments of light.

This morning, in the dark, shoveling a path to the garage door for D., I found myself reciting “I don’t believe we need to know what below zero feels like” — this is a wintry line from a poem by my mentor, Jim Moore (from his book Lightning at Dinner, published by Graywolf Press in 2005):

I Don’t Think We Need To Know
Jim Moore

I don’t believe we need to know what below zero feels like.
Or why we die: that, too, I don’t think we need to know.
Why life is hard? I think not.

It’s hot inside, it’s cold out:
that’s already a lot to know. That love comes and goes,
that we grow old slowly and then suddenly not.

It helps to know that snow is a god fallen to earth.
Sometimes it helps to let in the world a bit:
some wind, a few flakes, the sound of ice cracking.

Stars, for reasons we’ll never know, help show us
who on earth we are and how to bear it here and how
far away we are from knowing why we are small.

Who knows why we love or why we die,
or what exactly wonder is,
demanding that I touch it as if it were the beloved

and I the young bride, believing.

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