December

Spring, now so far away, comes with an urgency in Vermont, a breaking up of frozen roads, hail that reluctantly gives way to rain, coltsfoot – the first flowers – that thrust up through the gnarliest of patches: roadsides and where the gravel is beaten hard.

This season, too, comes with its own severity: every day, a little less light, a little more dark. What are the words I drag with me as I enter this season? Forget gray. Discard dimness. This is a world turned upside down, where the snow-covered ground exudes light, the trees pull in on themselves, myriad creatures put their heads down to sleep. The night sky is studded with white quartz. The clouds sink down into the earth. The garden rests. My callouses mend.

We have come too far together toward the end now
to fear the end. These nights, I am no longer even certain
I know what the end means.
— Louise Gluck
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Hardwick, Vermont