Hour of approach, hour of silence.

The brother sets down his axe in the woods.


The sister sets down her glasses on the table

and waits in the moment before prayer

that throbs from the tolling of the bell.

Shadows swallow shadows in the frigid air.

Hour of departure.

Ledgers toted, windows shuttered.

Late heading homeward, children

do not stop to play on the walk.

The wind stills, the sun

in the brief moment before it sets

catches a row of white houses in its flare.

From under the hedges, the heart of the firs,

darkness rises—the blue hour.

Time stops for breath, breathes.

Ovens are lit, then streetlamps, porches.

It starts to snow. It will snow all night.

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