Author's Note: Winter is coming. So say the Starks (it’s a Game of Thrones thing, in case you haven’t been reading the books and/or watching the TV show). In honor of the season, here are some snow poems from the North.
Waxing the Snow
Winter drifts, three days of wet December snow.
Boots and two layers of gloves, gasoline-rich
scents coaxing my blower alive again, roaring
white arc spraying with the wind. Across the lot
line my neighbor emerges from his garage, black
snowmobile suit, heavy mittens and Vikings
stocking cap, purple tassel bobbing with each step.
He holds a long squeegee, clear jug of Future
floor wax which he pours out on the snow, thin
line across the driveway, parallels the house, mops
gently as I watch, stalled in my noisy work.
My blower coughs to silence and I call "Hey Bill,
wataya up to?" "Just waxin' up my snow" he yells.
"Gonna be a long winter, yah, better to get 'er done
early, I guess, keep da snow fresh."
Gritty snow lines my driveway, slush and grime
where the plow's been through. Where he has waxed
he could dance, if he had time, on gleaming snow,
a polished white mirror, a billion, billion frozen tears.
Snow Day, Watching the News
Another snow, which oaks catch on their bare branches,
slicing a white, cloud-spread sky.
Winter again, with its silences and icy breaths.
Someone nearby shovels in the cold,
scraping down to concrete, but the road remains
deserted, empty of cars. Squirrels hide in their high nests;
winter birds cannot be seen. In the kitchen, we drink coffee,
nibble at fresh-baked scones, hands wrapped
around hot mugs. No need to leave; we own the day.
Far from here the news is more awful
than ever – bombs and body parts and rivers
of blood. Refugees languish on harsh islands
or drown as they cross toward countries strung
with barbwire, flashing with guns. We have seen
some of this before in newsreels, black and white:
boots and mud, snow a misery for sufferers in rags.
Smoke is not new, nor children, hungry and wan,
nor powerful men screaming at surging crowds.
How hard it is not to look away.
But now the oceans rise, seeping through limestone
or eating away the shore. Soon cars and trucks
will drive themselves. Robot factories stamp out
goods the unemployed can’t buy, and oil flows
through sacred waterways. Stocks climb and climb
to record highs. Billionaires live in their compounds,
mansions on high ground commanding the surrounding plain.
Giraffes are dying, whales sing their dirges all through the poisonous seas.
Breath Above Snow
How easily words dissolve into image:
breath above snow, wind cutting our faces,
eyes hurt in sub-zero chill by a bright,
mocking sun. That was long ago, and it is
now, but it never really happened that way,
an illusion of mist and words we call memory,
a ghost wandering through nerves and cells.
Once we saw two deer below us in the woods,
gliding between ash and pine, down
to the shallow stream to drink. We watched,
keeping silent as we could, their tawny
bodies drifting from our sight. And we said
nothing, so the moment could burn itself into
air as we stood breathing in the quiet and the cold.
© 2018 Steve Klepetar
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