The snow-muffled hum of engines,
the roof-racks loaded high,
the approach to a bare place in a barren season.
The squeak and crunch of dry snowfall,
the firewood buried under the fresh snow,
the three rough rooms of knotty pine.
Cross-country stalkers on narrow rails,
tracks of deer and fox,
bird-hops divided by tailfeather slashes.
The strange near-silences
and the far, far leafless view,
the swell of hollow and hill.
The cowering branches in sleeves of snow,
the brook running hide-and-seek
under the delicate capes of ice.
The coffee and burning wood,
the puddles in entranceways,
the sour steam of wet wool.
The ache of heavily-booted legs,
the deep scale gripping the lungs,
the squint of light-bludgeoned eyes.
The white crests probing the gray-white clouds,
the footprints we try not to plant,
the clean wordlessness of winter woods.
(from The Separation, © 1995 Philip K. Jason, originally published in The Willamette Journal)