Insomnia at Forty Below

After tossing and turning I cloak up
and step into the other larger room
outside, where frangible branches, glassy
garage and garbage cans have been chisled
from the brittle substance of algid air.
I take the crusted foot path towards the light
bulb inadvertently left on, its fragile
filament now projecting a sallow cone
across the desolation of the yard.
Only boot crunch stays a mute implosion
of fir boughs and snow and the curtain swirls
of the aurora above, inertia
with a smell of its own. My senses seize
this scene sustained by sound from emptiness.


Forty below is where celsius and Fahrenheit cross, but when I experienced this poem in Alberta, in 1971, I would have only thought about the latter.

Suffice it to say it was cold, a very dry cold, and I couldn’t sleep, I told myself, because of the outdoor light I’d accidentally left on, which had to be extinguished before I could drift off.