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J A N U A R Y   1 9 6 5

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by Maxine Kumin

Hear Maxine Kumin read this poem (in RealAudio):

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Also by Maxine Kumin:
The Word (1994)
The Nuns of Childhood: Two Views (1992)
Continuum: A Love Poem (1980)
Grace (1961)

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All night in the flue like a trapped thing,
like a broken bird,
the wind knocked unanswered.
Snow fell down the chimney, making
the forked logs spit
ashes of resurrected crickets.
By 3 A.M. both stoves were dead.
A ball of steel wool
froze to the kitchen windowsill,
while we lay back to back in bed,

two thin survivors. Somewhere in a small dream
a chipmunk uncorked from his hole
and dodged along the wall.
My love, we live at such extremes
that when, in the leftover spite of the storm,
we touch and grow warm,
I can believe I saw
the ground release
that brown and orange commonplace
sign of thaw.

Now daylight the color of buttermilk
tunnels through the coated glass.
Lie still; lie close.
Watch the sun pick
splinters from the window flowers.
Now under the ice, under twelve knee-deep layers
of mud in last summer's pond
the packed hearts of peepers are beating
barely, barely repeating
themselves enough to hang on.

Maxine Kumin won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for her collection of poems Up Country. Her most recent volumes are Connecting the Dots (1996) and Selected Poems: 1960-1990 (1997).

Copyright © 1965 by Maxine Kumin. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; January 1965; January 25th; Volume 215, No. 1; page 67.

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