skips mockingly alongside as
I shovel laboriously
and then blows on.
Snow was once a plaything.
Now it's a potential murder weapon.
The white flakes were welcomed
as they transformed the
green and muddied earth into
a giant white tabula rasa.
Mused by Dylan Thomas I recall snow that
“was not only shaken from white wash buckets
down the sky,
it came shawling out of the ground
and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands
and bodies of the trees;
snow grew overnight....”
Imagination made it an alien landscape.
A white planet of sweet dread and possibility.
A delightful drifting dessert.
We burrowed like arctic ferrets,
our stocking caps poking up like cherries
topping glistening yards of sweet cream icing,
marked by magical paths, random designs,
outlines of games and constellations,
secret caves carved by snow gnomes.
When it was packable we built forts,
then fought white hot holy wars
fraught with glee. Joy our aim
as boredom was vanquished.
In winter, white was the color of fun,
the sign of schools closed and minds afire,
the sure bet that Christmas
and Jack Frost birthdays
would be wishes abundantly fulfilled.
There would be sleds!
We stayed out playing, freezing, turning
as blue as the sky when the clouds
parted briefly, then the stars shone signaling
the end of malleable snow as evening cooled
everything to a hard crust.
We went in and thawed, dreaming of tomorrow.
Hoping for more snow. Caring not a whit for
bird-chirped spring or soft-boiled summer.
check our phones before
even peeking out windows.
Snow is Death’s emissary, Death’s
soft stealth tool.
A multi-effectual snare. A trap without teeth.
We could slip, fall, become stuck in its soft
quicksand grip and die, sucked into the frozen
tundra, becoming a human popsicle,
literally licked by Death.
Or, shoveling an escape path, dreaming of flights
to warmer climes, succumb to a snow
stress induced heart attack in a fit
of cabin fever. Oh! Angina!
Found later in our driveway, clutching our chest,
dressed in Bermuda shorts and a poofy down parka,
the police and neighbors look on, shaking their heads
knowingly, mumbling under their visible breath,
“It could’ve been any one of us. There’s just been
so much snow this year. Just so much.
Only so much.”
Instead, my foot finds ice, my ankle twists, I fall
folded but unbruised, rise again, alive in pain,
crippled, star eyed and teared.
The wind carries Death’s mocking chuckles
rattling the curled dead leaves
dangling in the frozen trees,
a rustling knell.
Later, limping up the walk, I stop, turn with my back
to the white covered lawn,
imagining it in slow motion but moving dizzyingly quick,
sticking out my tongue, mocking Death,
whispering “Neener! Neener!”
inches of frozen fluff embracing me gently,
more or less,
I fan my splayed limbs lying on the cold ground,
then rise again, slowly, with effort and hard breathing,
leaving behind an impression
of an angel taking flight in the snow.
Take that cold Death!
Or, so I imagine as
I take up my shovel,
and walk, lame, into the warm
Death waits outside. Shivering.
Skulking. Shrouded in white.
Fearing spring’s melting approach
but eyeing the promise
of summer beaches and
the possibilities of undertow.
For now, he scythes over fields of snow,
an icy garden mottled with a smattering of
leftover shriveled leaves.
I sit inside, ignoring what’s out,
eating my dinner mockingly,
blowing my soup cool.
* It's PoMo! To learn about PoMo (POetry MOnday), click here and then scroll down.
This one is long but I kind of like it. How about you? How are you doing during this very cold winter? Does this poem capture some of your feelings about the season? Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments!
This poem is included in this collection: