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Monday, December 31, 2018


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

A flock of migrating Canada geese take flight from Colorado in 2014. Credit: Amanda Sutherland, Reporter-Herald.

On a chilly December afternoon
A paper-white gibbous moon
Hauls itself over the eastern hills
Up through the seasonal haze
Into a sky crowded with pale, nondescript clouds
Shuffling between horizons.
A single winter sparrow pecks for seeds
On the ground beneath the grape arbor.
We open the doors and windows
To the cold air
And not without trepidation
Face those far hills
Where the new year will first reveal itself.
The future has twisted out of our grasp
And belongs now
To our children and grandchildren
To whom we must apologize
For leaving them to struggle
Against the tempests we might have prevented
But did not.
We cannot know if they will succeed or fail,
Cannot know if migrating geese and cranes and swans
Will someday not return
To the ponds and marshes
Where they have wintered for ten thousand thousand years,
Cannot know if the Great Mother
Will finally disown, disinherit and evict all her offspring,
The righteous and the not,
While this infinitesimal blue bubble once called Home
Goes on wobbling and spinning
Through the oceanic darkness
Of the undivided now.

Buff Whitman-Bradley's poems have appeared in many print and online journals. His most recent books are To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World and Cancer Cantata. With his wife Cynthia, he produced the award-winning documentary film Outside In and, with the MIRC film collective, made the film Por Que Venimos. His interviews with soldiers refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan were made into the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California.