Twenty below, I said, and closed the door,
A drop of five degrees and going down.
It makes a tautened drum-hide of the floor,
Brittle as leaves each building in the town.
I wonder what would happen to us here
If that hard wind of winter never stopped,
No man again could watch the night grow clear,
The blue thermometer forever dropped.
I hope, you answered, for so cruel a storm
To freeze remoteness from our lives too cold.
Then we could learn, huddled all close, how warm
The hearts of men who live alone too much,
And once, before our death, admit the old
Need of a human nearness, need of touch.