Summer is dessert, temporary as whipped cream,
while winter’s permanence
breathes out and in the core of us,
laying down fat and the protein
of sustenance. Look how
the deck chairs lounge at angles,
like lazy guests, ready to go
when the signs turn.
We bring them out for light chitchat,
pliant to fold and put away.
Adirondacks grace the lawn
like ladies in gauze
and white portrait hats.
The chairs seem grounded, dug-in,
but with the first breath of hearth-smoke
one October afternoon,
we nestle them in the shed.
And anyway the ladies after a month
have gone back to the city
and tightened their days,
stitching their lives to order and plan,
stitching their speech to matter.
Summer offers recess.
In winter we live up to our chins
in all that is expected or hoped,
our shoes in line on a shelf,
dinner at six, chairs
upholstered in geometrics
or stylized flowers remembered
but held in brocaded place.
Here we build countries
and laws and philosophies,
and poems about impermanence,
the garden’s death and the solid
grounding of winter days
holding deep surprise
and what we’ve always known.