Midnight Snow and Stars
by Eric Paul Shaffer

No gods will be born this December eve

as we stand shod to knees in snow

under hard stars within a black ring of pines
circumscribing sky. At such a moment, we pause

to ponder the fathomless blue infinite

over our heads and the silence

ice and the tilt of the planet grant

the land. Starlight illuminates our tracks

among boles and branches, and the silver

cloud of our breath fades, and gleams, and fades.

Yet when I shake this bough, the weight of winter

will scatter from limbs and needles

the light of two thousand suns through millions

or more of miles of darkness.

That darkness encloses me, the same night

the light crossed with merely an imperative

to shine through a blackness

these fierce, fleet rays, falling at my feet

in glimmering drifts, will never know.

From a clearing at midnight in a snowy wood,

the universe is too large to bear gods and too small

to bear the light we carry into the darkness we find

in our eyes when we look toward the stars.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 1.

Eric Paul Shaffer is the author of five books of poetry, including Lahaina Noon (2005), Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen (2001), and Portable Planet (2000). He received the 2002 Elliot Cades Award for Literature, a 2006 Ka Palapala Po’okela Book Award for the book Lahaina Noon, and the 2009 James M. Vaughan Award for Poetry.

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