Walking into Winter

Death is opening the paper hearts

of the milkweed, unclasping hands

that held their secret

all summer.

Coated and mittened

against November-cold, I ease

along a hillside path and listen

to the rustle and sift, the small talk

of tall stalks in the wind:


they are shaking out their seeds,

they are lifting their children

into thin air

on filaments of light—

small galaxies

wheeling into the world, each

with one tiny seed-heart

asleep, for now, in the center

of its bright basket.


Tomorrow, the rain

will rinse the empty chambers,

will wash these hollowed bodies

and slowly lean them down

into the fallow field

of winter, that dark cradle

of every beginning.

Emily Hancock lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and works as a letterpress printer and hand-bookbinder. She has received awards for her poetry from the Poetry Council of North Carolina and the Oxford Guild of Printers (England), and has been published in the Greensboro Review, Appalachian Journal, and Grey Sparrow Journal.

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