and
------------------------------------------------------------

the sky is solemn today.
she spits complaining snowflakes
on towns as small as yours and mine
until the snowplows collect unemployment.

baby jesus mans a drafty manger
as shut-down lights
and pine trees breathe
relief at the passing of the year.

and little girls tote their fashion plates
while little boys drive high-tech cars
and all play together on the parking lot mound,
rejoice in flaky frozen manna.

once the leaves were brown then burned,
and once the trees would sigh and sway,
drop down snowy gifts until the thaw
brought triumphant parades of tulips,
and birds not-yet fattened reclaimed summerhome.

and you and i counted seasons in recurring
snow then mud then dirt then rain, believed in
bionic women and men, and ran from boys
and cooties and fear, slowly
buried innocence in schoolbooks
and heartbreak.

i count the time in weary gray skies
and complain about once festive snow.

and i am old today.

hli
(12/21/94)