Issue 28 | Fall 2021

Water and Light

A skim of new ice gives the pond a dull, pewter
sheen. A few ruddy red leaves still hang on the branches
of the big maple that stands between the cottage
and the water. Sunday evening cup of tea at the kitchen
window: thin sunlight glinting off the frozen puddles
in the farm road; to the west, the mountain—dark and hulking.

I don’t go often to the church in the village.
The tall, leaded-glass windows
seem as cold as
the stone spire above.
The seats are hard; and, so, too,
are many of the people.

I would rather walk around the pond,
past the tree, across the fields
to the foot of the mountain, find
the narrow path there
and climb up between the birches
to the craggy rocks at the turn of the ridge.

A stream flows down through the rocks
and drops to a wide bed of
ground pine, lady fern and—just by the
water—a patch of brook moss. I take
a pew on one of the rocks and study
the spirit of the small sea of green at my feet.

From here, I can look all the way
up the valley to the lake
at the northern end: a wide
expanse between the ridges.
The sky above ranges from gray to
purple cumulonimbus of the coming storm.

Water and light, ice and squall.
Miles away, beyond the lake,
a tiny, tinker-toy truck
inches soundlessly along
the thin ribbon of highway
that climbs the eastern ridge.

Filed under: Poetry

Maxwell King is the former editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and President of The Heinz Endowments. He is the author of Crossing Laurel Run, a small book of poetry by Autumn House Press, and of the New York Times-bestselling biography of Mister Rogers, entitled The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers. He is working on a biography of early-20th Century Pittsburgh artist John Kane.