Although this kitchen window can offer 
        only what frail daylight is willing to disclose, 

the morning's movement attempts to tug 
        everything into view.  Sunshine spreads 

across a landscape mottled with the stains 
        of lingering shadows still gripping those 

distant, gray hillsides yet diminishing, 
        as if faint paint smears on a familiar canvas. 

Overnight frost clings to the shrubbery, 
        resisting for a while this slight, early swab 

of warming, as the season's last leaves 
        spin swiftly, whirling from trees now scoured 

by western gales.  Even the windbreak 
        of old evergreens waves, straining against 

winter's customary gusts and refusing 
        each threatening thrust.  The wind's direction 

indicates havoc somewhere just beyond 
        the horizon, where an oncoming storm front 

already has taken shape.  After first skies 
        falsely clarify toward noon, black clouds will 

soon collect above the barn's architecture, 
        bare-bone boards weathered by years of abuse: 

the afternoon air will fill with that untamed 
        hopelessness witnessed each time winter makes 

its presence known. By end of evening, 
        all warnings will be heeded: livestock gathered 

safely together, doors bolted, and every one 
        of the windows shuttered to the disheveled dark. 

[ First appeared in South Dakota Review


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