There’s frost all over the poplar trees;
They look like quiet clouds,
But they are not quieter than clouds, because clouds move.
The tree-trunks still look white,
But the branch-bark, which once seemed so light,
Looms like dark squiggles,
Against the cool drop of a pale blue sky.
The frostlings twinkle wee rainbows as I crunch by,
And the ground is a deep secret, hidden by snow.
It wasn’t always. Not long ago,
The yellow leaves whispered amongst themselves,
Screened out a secret, chill-steel sky,
And the tousled grass lay brown and plain,
‘Til the leaves spun off like frizbees,
Sailing down to earth again.
These utterly silent, barren, frosty trees!
What is it that they do not say?
That on some day unknown to me but soon,
Thicker-than-ever, shining leaves,
Will burst back out, “SURPRISE”!
To dazzle with damp-green perfume,
And laugh with the tickling breeze,
As if they’d never heard of snow?
Painting the shimmery, woody air.
With shades deep, shifting, sweet, mysterious?
I’ll be the last to know.
Now gaunt white trees,
White drifted ground,
Both shadow-sparkle, icy, mum,
And dusted by the fading orange of the sun.
Ralph T. Kenney