At dusk, a great flare of winter lightning photographed the bay:
Waves were broken scrolls. Beyond Donegal, white mountains
hung in a narrow bas-relief frozen on sky.
Later, there was sleet: trees down
on the Drumholm road; near Timoney’s farm, a frantic goose
pinned under branches.
All night long, we spoke of loneliness,
long winter, while winter sang in the chimneys.
Then the sky cleared and a marvel began: The hills turned blue;
in the valley a blue cottage sent up the day’s first plume of smoke.
It gathered like a dream drenched in frost.
That should have been all. We had worn out night.
But single-file, deliberate, five heifers, a black bull, three calves stepped through the
They arranged themselves between the house and hedge: a kind of diagram:
a shifting pattern grazing frozen weeds.
Their image is with me still. The backs of the cattle are patchy with frost blue as
John Unterecker, "Midwinter" from Stone, published by University of Hawai’i Press. Copyright © 1977 by John Unterecker. Reprinted by permission of Estate of John Unterecker.
(University of Hawai'i Press, 1977)