That first winter in Vermont,
how dark and quiet the streets were
in the small town. How unkind.
Winding off without sidewalks
into desolate fields of snow, coyotes wailing
just beyond the widow’s lonely backyard grave.
One night, cloaked in solitude like a traveler
from another land, I followed one small sidewalk
through the town center, past the general store,
the toy shop, the B and B,
sliding my boots into the crisp footprints of others,
past houses with sleeping children
tucked behind closed doors
like angels in an advent calendar
until I came to a church lit up in the night,
a creche of painted figures beckoning.
Mary’s face beneath the blue veil was so inviting.
I stood there along with the shepherds
for nearly a half hour, watching
the baby with arms outstretched
as if to receive my winter prayer.