Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

Elizabeth Tibbetts, a poet from Hope, writes of this poem that when she was a nurse in a nursing home, a “lovely elderly lady with the bluest eyes, who was homesick for her island (and would never go home again), told me that snow would put things right.” And then it snowed.


By Elizabeth Tibbetts

The old, blue-eyed woman in the bed

is calling down snow. Her heart is failing,

and her eyes are two birds in a pale sky.

Through the window she can see a tree

twinkling with lights on the banking

beyond the parking lot. Lawns are still green

from unseasonable weather. Snow

will put things right; and sure enough,

by four, darkness carries in the first flakes.

Chatter, hall lights, and the rattle of walkers

spill through her doorway as she lies there—

ten miles (half a world) of ocean

between her and her home island.

She looks out from a bed the size of a dinghy.

Beyond the lit tree, beyond town, open water

accepts snow silently and, farther out,

the woods behind her house receive the snow

with a faint ticking of flakes striking needles

and dry leaves—a sound you would not believe

unless you’ve held your breath and heard it.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright ©2002 Elizabeth Tibbetts. Reprinted from “In the Well,” Blue Stem Press, 2002, by permission of Elizabeth Tibbetts. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc at [email protected] or 228-8263. “Take Heart: Poems from Maine,” an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.