One Penny

(posted Tuesday, Nov. 5; to be composted Tuesday, Nov. 12) To hear “One Penny” read by the poet, click here or on the title. Everything draws back,
not so much a season
as a lack.
The maple sap burns low,
unfanned. Pondwater,
ice-blown, retreats to a corner.
The plowed drive’s shoe-string
drops on a half-sketched map,
dirty, untied.
A rabbit-crossing
hops to the other side–
soft fold in the paper, blurring.
Movement I can’t quite catch:
the fourth deer
of the afternoon, bounding away.
Where does she bed? There is
no shelter, only trunks too thin
themselves to stop a wind,
their colored leaves
long swept off, or scrubbed,
or whittled.
One faded splinter
rattles from a twig like a cough.
Even winter’s used up–
no bright fierceness, no falling snow.
An icicle drips
in watered-whiskey sunlight,
the heart tips south like a tin cup.

Jane Hirshfield’s most recent book is The October Palace.