In Winter

By Michael Ryan b. 1946 Michael Ryan
At four o’clock it’s dark.
Today, looking out through dusk
at three gray women in stretch slacks   
chatting in front of the post office,   
their steps left and right and back
like some quick folk dance of kindness,   
I remembered the winter we spent   
crying in each other’s laps.
What could you be thinking at this moment?   
How lovely and strange the gangly spines   
of trees against a thickening sky
as you drive from the library
humming off-key? Or are you smiling   
at an idea met in a book
the way you smiled with your whole body   
the first night we talked?
I was so sure my love of you was perfect,   
and the light today
reminded me of the winter you drove home   
each day in the dark at four o’clock   
and would come into my study to kiss me   
despite mistake after mistake after mistake.

Michael Ryan, “In Winter” from New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2004 by Michael Ryan. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004)

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Poet Michael Ryan b. 1946

Subjects Nature, Winter, Relationships, Living, Men & Women, Separation & Divorce

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Michael  Ryan


Poet and memoirist Michael Ryan was born in St Louis, Missouri. He studied at the University of Notre Dame and Claremont Graduate School, and earned an MFA and PhD from the University of Iowa. Ryan’s first volume, Threats Instead of Trees (1974), won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His second collection, In Winter (1981), was selected by Louise Glück for the National Poetry Series. God Hunger (1989) won the Lenore . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Winter, Relationships, Living, Men & Women, Separation & Divorce

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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