The cold north wind comes tumbling through
Laying drifts high against blackjack trunks.
The deer are out. The sky is blue.
Here lie tracks of hares and chipmunks.
The snow’s buried the prairie grass.
Big buffalo huddle and snort.
Over the plains bald vultures pass.
Winter is long. Its days are short.
The full moon rises behind clouds
Whose billowy silver forms gleam.
Skeletal are the blackjack’s boughs
That reach across the frozen stream.
This is the plains in December:
Rolling, snowswept fields, a huge sky,
Leafless riverbottom timber,
And an arid air, crisp and dry.
Here are wild and austere beauty
Found in the mist of bison’s breath,
The crow’s feathers—glossy, sooty—
And the old weave of life and death.