Poem for January

Poem for January

Maybe winter isn't sad because it's cold
or windy or all those other sad things but
because when the sun sets at 4:30 or 5
and you gather the contents of your day
in a small sack, as if it were grain you were
trading for supper, you find it weighs
less than you had hoped. You know that
it will not be worth enough to buy you
a full meal, but you are already
at the market and too far gone
to gather more sunlight. You watch
the shadows crawl across the bricks
of the building outside your window,
not greedily but consistently, spreading
like famine or religion until there is nowhere
left for them to take. You wonder whether
the shadows take pride in their work.
If they even notice it at all, or if they just
gulp down buildings and theaters
and baseball fields the way whales
swallow squid and seaweed along with krill.
The shadows must notice the sky at least,
you say, they must taste the clouds
and smoke and the troposphere
and the stratosphere and the mesosphere,
but you know that they might not.
That the galaxy is mostly dark and what
is a little ozone between friends.
The shadows have crept another story
up the building, a hundred years of ivy
in a matter of minutes, but you know
that by morning they will have spit it
back up like Jonah, perhaps finally
the word of God along with it.