Just to know how it felt I stood under the red pine.
It was 10 below and the sun was not quite up
and the moon not quite down, and the air so cold
you couldn’t call it cold anymore, but sort of comical
on the intake, and the lungs were like – Are you serious?
The small three-pronged tracks in the snow
belonged to creatures no longer of this earth.
The paw prints, as well, were the only traces
of what we once called rabbits when such things
bounded from the shrubberies. And the light
which began to climb over the rim of horizon
appeared stunned like ancestors in old photographs
seem stunned. You look at them in suspenders
and bonnets and the austerity of their faces
as if they knew, even then, in the minute’s wait
for the shutter to close, they were goners. As if they
knew the reason for the picture was time without pity. So
I stood under a red pine, took a few more breaths
from deep in the glacial instant of my one and only life,
which hurt a little, like joy, by which I mean the edge of joy
where it sharpens itself for the work it has to do.
– “Joy” from The Word We Used for It by Max Garland (UW Press)