Circle of Breath

by WILLIAM STAFFORD
THE night my father died the moon shone on the snow.
I drove in from the west; Mother was at the door.
All the light in the room extended like a shadow.
Truant from knowing, I stood where the great dark fell.
There was a time before, something we used to tell —
how we parked the car in a storm and walked into a field
to know how it was to be cut off, out in the dark alone.
My father and I stood together while the storm went by.
A windmill was there in the field giving its little cry
while we stood calm in ourselves, knowing we could go home.
But I stood on the skull of the world the night lie died, and knew
that I leased a place to live with my white breath.
Truant no more, I stepped forward and learned his death.