Winter came late that year,
catching lazy autumn off guard,
burnishing the late harvest grapes
into the mellow stain of Brandywine
and breathing soft frost
into the dreams of sleeping children.
It rolled pewter across the sky,
chased the moon with chilly fingers
and cast long shadows across the ponds,
lashings of stripped birch branches
rattling windows at midnight,
and slipping through casement cracks
where it hid in silver fog.
It swept leaves from silo lofts;
muddled tobacco and blackberries,
and spangled cobwebbed corners
like stars strung on a bracelet.
It glistened and twinkled
and made the children dream of flying,
feet skimming weightless on silver
like slivered wings of snow owls.
It made old men think of laughing,
and set mothers to baking apples
and unpacking wool coats from trunks
hidden behind the attic eaves
where moonlight practiced magic.
It crept into bowls of snow pudding
and tucked itself under sleds,
piling in drifts against windows.
It stretched across bridges
and nestled over the fields,
trapping wood smoke under grayling skies,
blanketing winter's white burr
with promises of January.