We’re iced-in, this April dawn. The misted window
Hides the mountain. We’ve joined the ghosts who strain

To live with us inside these rooms—
They sail above the long mahogany floors, know

Stories no more than air, harboring loves slain
By time, who dined and sang, postponed their dooms.

They linger before the silent stone
Fireplace, glide down the greens. We’re here

Awhile, and we imagine them. Last night,
The moon’s sliver was so slender it hardly shone,

Almost melted like sugar high in the sheer
Shallow-water blue of sunset, its white

Cutting clearer as it emerged sharply
Against the tidal wash of twilight. Red

Maple and speckled alder already
Bloom here. We see them, as will others, mostly

As in a dream, and soon false hellebore
Will crowd beside the stream’s insistent eddy,

Lower its lordly oars, and row.
When others arrive at the gate one day,

Will they have dreams of us, the older hosts?
They may. I hope they will. When the last snow

Goes, I know none can really stay.
Morning wanes. I’ve loved you, and here, as ghosts,

We lie in bed to watch the light move across
The great lawn. I want to be here to see

The starflower, still dormant—equilibrium
Of centuries on either side of us—

Unborn marsh marigold and wood anemone,
Trailing arbutus, the returning trillium.

Ernest Hilbert is the author of Sixty Sonnets, All of You on the Good Earth, and Caligulan, which was selected as winner of the 2017 Poets’ Prize. His fourth collection, Last One Out, appeared in March 2019. He lives in Philadelphia where he works as a rare book dealer and book reviewer for The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. His poem “Mars Ultor” was included in Best American Poetry 2018, and his poems appear in Yale Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Parnassus, Sewanee Review, Hudson Review, Boston Review, The New Republic, American Scholar, and the London Review. Hilbert was baptized and confirmed at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Holly, New Jersey, where his father served as organist and choir master. Hilbert’s son was baptized at Trinity Episcopal on Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, where the family attends services.

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