Silence Amplified

February 10, 2016

Photo courtesy Mirko Delcaldo

Introduction by Ted Kooser: The first two lines of this poem pose a question many of us may have thought about: how does snow make silence even more silent? And notice Robert Haight’s deft use of color, only those few flecks of red, and the rest of the poem pure white. And silent, so silent. Haight lives in Michigan, where people know about snow.

How Is It That the Snow

How is it that the snow
amplifies the silence,
slathers the black bark on limbs,
heaps along the brush rows?

Some deer have stood on their hind legs
to pull the berries down.
Now they are ghosts along the path,
snow flecked with red wine stains.

This silence in the timbers.
A woodpecker on one of the trees
taps out its story,
stopping now and then in the lapse
of one white moment into another.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2002 by Robert Haight from his most recent book of poetry, “Emergences and Spinner Falls,” New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2002. Reprinted by permission of Robert Haight. Introduction copyright © 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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