In the night, the sickle moon shines over my shoulder.  Fingers stiff with cold, I thrust the shovel under new snow. Bend and lift with my knees. Throw the shovelful aside.

Thrust. Bend. Lift. Throw… Thrust. Bend. Lift. Throw.

The night, the cold, the moon, the repetition. Muscles tire, grow sore, slow.  Just before I finish, I straighten from my labor.  Moon and starlight sparkle across the backyard snowfield; something unseen drops with a rustle to the ground.

In my soul an unrecognized clenching releases.  I breathe deep, taking the cold down into my lungs.  For one crisp, clear moment everything pauses in the crystalline silence.

On the street, a car careens around the bend and the moment passes.  Suddenly I am freezing, thinking only of the warmth which waits inside.