Virgin the road, veiled with feathery snow
& still, but for my boots crunch-crunching.
Chalk white the beach, curled right & left
a huge snow-swollen quarter-moon, mute as night.
Frozen the lake, its whitecaps fused
into a milky disc, no wet splashes heard.
Overhead a whitewashed sky, bleached of dusk
by an ivory wand. I stop. No sound. None.
From habit I stare at the horizon now gone,
watch silvery dusk throb the creamy sky-lake.
Is Alaska like this, white on white on white
until one's eyes spin patterns on the blank slate?
Behind me I hear a familiar sound: geese honk
honking in near-unison. Their cries split
the silence: I squint, I stare.
I distinctly hear geese, but they're not there.
I start to walk back when the first shapes appear:
wriggling black silhouettes in slender strands
like ribbon streamers from a wedding veil.
Soprano, they call, and the answering flock,
alto, tardily shimmers into sight.
And the cold snow sky & the frozen milk lake
& the chalk white beach & the feather-strewn road
are cracked by black strings of geese flying by
by geese & the boot tracks I follow back.
-- Marilyn June Coffey
Published by The Nebraska Humanist, March 1991.