A flock of sunlit swans
flies down our winter river.
The new snow spread like a clean tablecloth—
so cold the ice-flecked air glitters.
An arresting rarity in this valley
they unzip the day and divide
silence from the need for silence.
Arguing over whose turn it was
to take him to his next treatment,
we stopped our walking
to let the image of what we almost ruined
pass over us like a squad of angels
who worked all night
going from doorpost to doorpost.
They’re returning to a lake
that can still hold their reflections.
When they finally disappear
into the thought of their journey
like lit water poured into a body of water
we feel rinsed, ready to go on.
How quiet the morning becomes.
*Originally published in Clover.
Joseph Powell is a retired English professor who taught at Central Washington University, and his most recent collection of poetry, A Preamble to the Afterlife, was published by Marchstreet Press in 2012.