by Eugene Ruggles
After forty Decembers the pastures
of upper Michigan continue to fall
into rust along the Detroit River,
where all of winter is descending
as I look south from Superior
past Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario
through miles of snow to find
the people who gave me their names,
the fuel whenever I was numb,
a balcony of blankets and sleep
if I was lost, water to pray from.
All the quiet teachers of healing
who dressed me to climb from loss
as from gain for they are one,
who let me use my fears by opening them
farmers who could feel the snow ripening.
They are standing together again
around my last belongings
lifting the weather above them,
a few pages, some cloth, a trunk
of maps and three photographs.
all the gifts I stored once
beneath the rooftops of these people --
the rafters still above me.
One night, with another blizzard
at its peak and their village
low on fuel, I want to know the bones
in their hands and arms held outward
above these gifts, warming themselves.