For the past two months, my older daughter (“OD”) has badgered me daily, asking, “When is it going to snow?” Snow finally arrived in our area about a week ago, and we rejoiced at the intermittent, lazy snowflakes Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Just as we’d begin to focus on a book or puzzle, one daughter or the other would shriek “Snow!!” at the first appearance of flakes, and both would scramble madly to the window.
When we saw the first snowfall, OD said, “Hey, you should write a poem about snow!” I got to say, “I did! Go look at the book.” She retrieved her copy of Between Gods and read through the table of contents, finally exclaiming, “Hey, there’s a poem called ‘Snow’!” and turning to the page. Then seconds later threw the book down to watch the snow from the window again. Oh well.
My favorite poem about snow is “The Snowman” by Wallace Stevens, which I wrote about here a few weeks ago. But there are so many others….
I love Michael Blumenthal’s “Abandoning Your Car in a Snowstorm: Rosslyn, Virginia” as it captures how he escapes the traffic, stress and tedium of city life. Here’s an excerpt (the entire text is here):
It is better
than leaving your wife or your nagging lover
could ever be.
It is better than anything
you have ever bought, better
than the best nights of sex in your life,
even better than quitting your job.
As you open your door to reclaim your feet
from the hungry clutch, you know
you are on to something: You are suddenly
a drowning man whose last stride has found
the ocean floor, a vagabond with a roof
over his head for the first time.
Around you, mothers curse red lights,
men in wide ties are reduced to a hilarious impotence.
All the revving in the world will not move them,
all their stalled money cannot buy rain.
And there you are,
Toyota-less and dancing to the Cadillac pace
of sure movement.
Another poem I love, excerpted here, is Margaret Atwood’s “Woman Skating,” in which Atwood watches her mother ice-skating on a snowy day:
With arms wide the skater
turns, leaving her breath like a diver’s
trail of bubbles.
Seeing the ice
as what it is, water:
seeing the months
as they are, the years
in sequence occurring
the miniature human
figure balanced on steel
needles (those compasses
floated in saucers) on time
time circling: miracle
And here’s a quick excerpt from my aforementioned poem, “Snow” (previously published in Crab Orchard Review):
Flakes scramble from the mist – white
streaming like a new constellation –
and as quickly their paths end,
found and defined by their collision.
It is something to be measurable,
to add up – each click into place
a vanishing into ritual, flakes
unlacing into thaw, night grinding
this faceted rind smooth
to support our weight, or not.
We walk the undisturbed angles
that drift missed, the sudden
blacktop where snow has forked
like defectors’ footsteps…