Snowbanks North of the House

Robert Bly

Those great sweeps of snow that stop suddenly six feet from the house ...
Thoughts that go so far.
The boy gets out of high school and reads no more books;
the son stops calling home.
The mother puts down her rolling pin and makes no more bread.
And the wife looks at her husband one night at a party, and loves him no more.
The energy leaves the wine, and the minister falls leaving the church.
It will not come closer
the one inside moves back, and the hands touch nothing, and are safe.

The father grieves for his son, and will not leave the room where the coffin stands.
He turns away from his wife, and she sleeps alone.

And the sea lifts and falls all night,
the moon goes on through the unattached heavens alone.

The toe of the show pivots in the dust ...
And the man in the black coat turns, and goes back down the hill.
No one knows why he came, or why he turned away, and did not climb the hill.

(from The Man in the Black Coat Turns, 1981)