American Life in Poetry: Column 346

It seems to me that most poems are set in spring or summer, and I was pleased to discover this one by Molly Fisk, a Californian, set in cold midwinter.

Winter Sun
How valuable it is in these short days,

threading through empty maple branches,
the lacy-needled sugar pines.

Its glint off sheets of ice tells the story

of Death’s brightness, her bitter cold.

We can make do with so little, just the hint

of warmth, the slanted light.

The way we stand there, soaking in it,

mittened fingers reaching.

And how carefully we gather what we can

to offer later, in darkness, one body to another.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Molly Fisk from her most recent book of poetry, The More Difficult Beauty, Hip Pocket Press, 2010. Reprinted by permission of Molly Fisk and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2011 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.