The halogen light on the back of the house
shines through the drooping branches
of paper-bark birches standing just east of the garage.
A few hours of freezing mist
has glistened long slender stems
with a thin glaze of ice
that catches the light
in a shimmering silver sheen.
Dreamlike, interlacing fingers
form a stranded bowl,
all arcs centered on that single glow
anchored to the wall below the overhanging eave.
My steps—taken slow and careful—
crunch the crust of frozen fescue
mapping the roll of the hill
down toward the barn and pen.
Working in the night,
I weave strands of colored lights
around cold slick tubes of steel,
feel the forming of ice
that beads along the edges of metal pipes.
Each added section extends the glow
reflected in the ice and snow
and on the white weathered boards
that shape the sides of the shed.
I finish the circle of the round pen
with one strand of lights left
in the cardboard box brought up
from the basement.
Back up at the house,
I turn out the light
then look out at the night
from the balcony door on the second floor.
The few passing by in this winter storm
headed to or from Wathena on 36
will notice a new cheeriness in the night,
a soft light in the weariness of travel,
a gentle beacon set against a low hill.
It is a good thing, I think,
to bring a small bit of brightness
into the stillness of freezing mist
and aching cold that sometimes surrounds
life’s lonely roads.