18th Dec 2020

The house in winter creaks like a ship.

Snow-locked to the sills and harbored snug

In soft white meadows, it is not asleep.

When icicles pend on the low roof's lip,

The shifting weight of a slow-motion tug

May slide off sometimes in a crashing slip.

At zero I have heard a nail pop out

From clapboard like a pistol shot.

All day this ship is sailing out on light:

At dawn we wake to rose and amber meadows,

At noon plunge on across the waves of white,

And, later, when the world becomes too bright,

Tack in among the lengthening blue shadows

To anchor in black-silver pools of night.

Although we do not really come and go,

It feels a long way up and down from zero.

At night I am aware of life aboard.

The scampering presences are often kind,

Leaving under a cushion a seed-hoard,

But I can never open any cupboard

Without a question: what shall I find?

A hard nut in my boot? An apple cored?

The house around me has become an ark

As we go creaking on from dark to dark.

There is a wilder solitude in winter

When every sense is pricked alive and keen

For what my pop or tumble down or splinter.

The light itself, as active as a painter,

Swashes bright flowing banners down

The flat white walls. I stand here like a hunter

on the qui vive, though all appears quite calm,

And feel the silence gather like a storm.

The House In Winter • Selected Poems of May Sarton

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