Oaks make an altogether deadly rattle
above the gully
as one leaf at a time drifts down.
Cold orange slides
under my foot in the mud,
the season filled with spaces
to be watched and taken in.
Sleet on the wind, moon on the rise,
for everyone in the valley
this hole in the pitch glows overhead.
A place, say, for a leaf
coated with ice to melt into.
One foot in the grave.
Who said that?
I've an eye for the moon,
for what makes me weak-kneed.
One tilt and I could be
off this side of the mountain.
The tides come down to that
unearthly pull. The moon
whitens peaks as far as the eye can see;
it gathers in my fender down the dirt road,
in snail tracks glistening tonight
all over Goshen Gap.
What draws the solitary to light
like orphaned things?
Candle lit on the ledge,
fall leaves laid out like marzipans,
and I'm off to the shine
of a different December--
the Key West fishing boat splashing
through phosphorescent green,
conchs hauled up in their pearly,
lunar shells; later I listened to my captive one
on its glimmery-fingered nightwalk
across the cottage floor.
I thought, please be a sleepy shell
as it thumped toward Christmas morning.
Small, the rise up; hard, the fall down.
Then the silence that made me
want to put my arm to an elbow--
that crippled pause in the moonlight.
-- Katherine Soniat