On the coldest day of winter,
I shut off the furnace.
It’s early morning, icy; I’m alone
in the chilled house and glad.
Soon the room is cold enough
that sitting at my writing desk
I can see breath clouds when
I blow on my hands to warm them.
I go upstairs and pile every blanket
in heavy layers on the big bed.
I crawl in and pull the covers
over my head. I want to stay here
until spring comes, when I shall rise
and go out looking for something
to eat. But that’s not how it happens.
My wife and daughter come home
and shake me, telling me the house
is freezing, and asking if I’m crazy.
The white-haired astronomer is walking
across the quad with his colleague, talking
about the universe, the unseen order of things
swirling to the farthest reaches of the cosmos.
His young colleague, a nuclear biologist,
recognizes the molecular constituency of reality,
and sees in the smallest neutron the truth
of his friend’s rhapsodies. They walk along—
talking, gesticulating, excited. People falling in love
should be so excited, eyes bright, full of genius
and madness, knowing they are on the right path,
they can feel it, they believe it, and more importantly,
they can prove it on a blackboard with a piece of chalk.
Richard Jones is the author of sixteen books of poetry, including Country of Air, A Perfect Time, King of Hearts, The Blessing, and Stranger on Earth. Editor since 1980 of the literary journal Poetry East, he curates its many anthologies, such as Paris, The Last Believer in Words, and Bliss.