The Winter Night

I went out into the winter night
to place the trash at the yard's edge. 
Just as I completed my task, I stole a glance 
upward to see the waxing quarter moon 
shining brightly far out into the sky,
far enough to reach my eye.
I was captured too by a reddish planet 
hovering below the moon, a bit off to the west.
My eyes shifted a little to the left to catch the
regularly flashing green lights of an airplane
crossing the blackened sky.
Bit by bit, more stars began popping into my awareness
as I slowly turned my head from side to side.
Just then, I became aware of the silence of the night.
I wrapped the stillness around me and
for the first time that day, I felt at ease.
My eyes drifted downward onto the spidery
arms of the Arizona Ash trees. I imagined 
some as witches' fingers pointing off into the distance,
while others seemed to encourage me closer.
These darkened silhouettes drew me in
as they appeared to have a story to tell.
As I leaned in, I heard the few remaining leaves on the branches
rustle as they scraped against each other in the evening breeze.
Standing alone in the darkened street, I found myself
savoring this moment of beauty, peace and imagination.

It seems curious that something so simple as a night scene
can remove all the stress of the day; or is it simply the act 
of being with the night that soothes.

—L. Winnette

A cold night--sitting alone in my empty room
Filled only with incense smoke,
Outside, a bamboo grove of a hundred trees;
On the bed, several volumes of poetry.
The moon shines through the top of the window,
And the entire neighborhood is still except for the cry
  of insects.
Looking at this scene, limitless emotion,
But not one word.
                                             Ryokan  (1758-1831)
Translated by John Stevens, One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan, Weatherhill, Inc, 1977  (translation and introduction)  One Robe, One Bowl › one-robe-one-bowl-1117

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