On the Shortest Days
by Joyce Sutphen
At almost four in the afternoon, the
wind picks up and sifts through the golden woods.
The tree trunks bronze and redden, branches
on fire in the heavy sky that flickers
with the disappearing sun. I wonder
what I owe the fading day, why I keep
my place at this dark desk by the window
measuring the force of the wind, gauging
how long a certain cloud will hold that pink
edge that even now has slipped into gray?
Quickly the lights are appearing, a lamp
in every window and nests of stars
on the rooftops. Ladders lean against the hills
and people climb, rung by rung, into the night.