Poetry Sunday: January by John Updike

In the northern hemisphere, we are now in the dead of winter, even as many in the southern hemisphere scorch under unbearable heat waves.

John Updike, of course, was a New Englander, and the winter he describes in this short poem is a New England winter. It might still be accurate, although I doubt there are any milk bottles bursting outside the door!

by John Updike

The days are short,
The sun a spark,
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.

Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor.
Milk bottles burst
Outside the door.

The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees of lace.

The sky is low.
The wind is gray.
The radiator
Purrs all day.


  1. That is nice verse. The milk bottles are indeed gone but everything else is still as it was.

    I think that this was is the first time that I have seen Updike’s poetry.

    1. He was an accomplished poet, even though it is not what he's known for, of course.

  2. I am old enough to remember when milk was delivered to the doorstep. In glass bottles too, not enshrouded in plastic.

    1. I am old enough to remember our milk being delivered in the family cow! The joys of growing up on a farm.

  3. I never knew that John Updike wrote poetry! Gotta love learning new things.

    1. He's not much known for his poetry, I think, but he was quite accomplished.


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