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.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.


The latest from america

In his World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis warned against the vices that are too often linked to politics today and do not build peace in society.
Gerard O’ConnellDecember 18, 2018
The request is a clear indication that children, not the reputation of the church, will be the paramount concern at this meeting.
Gerard O’ConnellDecember 18, 2018
As today’s Gospel suggests, righteousness is no guarantee of a smooth life.
Elizabeth Kirkland CahillDecember 18, 2018
The very best television is like an Ignatian contemplation: It tells stories that offer us some kind of gift—an insight or encouragement for our lives.
Jim McDermottDecember 18, 2018