A Poem by Tom Sexton

I know, I’m posting this poem off-season if that matters. We don’t read Frost’s “Stopping by Woods” in December only. Tom Sexton sent me this poem a few months ago, and I neglected to share it with our readers. My bad. So, with the official start of fall close and winter a ways away, I’m getting this on the blog because of its universal appeal. Tom is an occasional contributor to our blog and a loyal reader from his home precinct in Alaska, where he taught thousands of students at the University of Alaska and served a term as Alaska Poet Laureate. He’s known best as a western nature poet on the other side of the Mississippi and a northeastern gritty-city poet on this side of the continent. He spends some time Down East in Maine when he can motor across country with his wife, Sharyn, and their pup. And for Tom’s venerable classmates from Lowell High School I need to note that he is in the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame of LHS. His most recent book of poems is “A Ladder of Cranes” (2015).—PM


The Winter Sky


Long ago according to the book I’m reading

there was a rabbi who read the Torah

from dawn to dusk, decade after decade

trying to comprehend the meaning of life.

One night, too restless to sleep, he looked up

at the winter sky and saw a shooting star,

a scroll that opened and closed in a blink.

A morsel for a mouse, he thought, but enough.


I could see a handful of stars when I closed

the book. Another long winter was coming

to its end, an almost snowless winter.

I thought of swans moving their great wings,

shadowing the prairies below and of birch

in the boreal forest opening small green scrolls.


—Tom Sexton (c) 2016