I open the door as my wife steps
from the bath into the cold air,
goose bumps on her skin.
She wraps a towel around herself,
sees me watching, and unwraps it.
When she smiles, her breath rises.
The shadow of the bamboo sweeps
across the steps without stirring
the dusting of snow and we leave
no tracks as we climb the stairs
and fall into bed. The blackbird too
has a shadow. It crosses the sky
on winter afternoons, the sharp light
in the icicles hanging from the eaves.
In the lower corner of the old Chinese paintings,
a hermit or wandering monk sits at the base
of a mountain, his long hair dirty and his clothes torn.
Before him, the leafless branches of the trees wave.
Such a painting hangs near the stove
where my wife, now dressed,
sits brushing her hair.
I add wood to the fire.