Winter’s Night in the Mountains

Winter’s Night in the Mountains III by Harald Sohlberg

Winter’s Night in the Mountains

Just after sunset the sky is the perfect
shade of heart-aching blue that you only
see when the firmament yearns between daylight
and dark. There isn’t a word for that color.

And in the sky a silver star blazes
heraldic between the two white peaks—
(Or perhaps it’s a sliver of moon whose
outline is blurred by a slight evening haze?)

Starlight transfigures the snowy mountains—
It is good that we are here with the wandering
fox — far enough away that we can see
the fullness of that glory without fear.

The fox’s red, dulled by night but not extinguished,
smolders in the purply foreground haze
as if the sun had slunk back into the scene
in disguise, curious to see the dark’s domain.

Between the fox and the mountains a snow-blue
landscape ripples like a furrowed beach
abandoned by the ebbing of the tide;
and, tucked into the shadows of the hills,

A little village nestles for the night,
the snowy roof-gleam touched by hidden fingers
of silvery light. And marching toward the village
from either side, two lines of spindly trees

or a haphazard barricade of sticks,
and vines in the dim— impossible to guess
which, all sense of distance or of scale lost—
But as if a child had poked a palisade

into the snowbanks, and then was summoned
before the battle to drink his cocoa,
and be tucked into the heaping quilts where
all night long he shall dream of snow and foxes.

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