First Date

by Elizabeth Garber

December afternoon, we strode across frozen crust
of cut meadow.  The curve of earth soon swallowed
your old white cape, faded barn, your carefully

built stone walls.  We peered into the forest tangle,
silver birch, alder thicket, bronze oak leaves trembling.
Our eyes were shy, darting, hiding like deer shadows.

We knelt to marvel at crystal columns erupted out
of frozen mud.  In the growing quiet, flickering fine
snow etched the ice-streaked earth, catching on

broken paled grasses, highlighting hidden tracings
of a tractor’s path.  We faced a vast sky filling with
fine lace.  Standing separate.  Stilled.  Hushed.  Chill

dusted our faces.  Our breathing, pale shadows, our
vanishing, timeless.  It was only our fingers, unused
to bite of cold, that grasped us back, startled.  Our

eyes met in a smile that was deeper, as if something
had been settled.  We returned toward a lamp, lit over
your kitchen table, streaking fire across whitened grass.