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Thursday, December 5, 2013

365 Poem: Nobody does it better

Day 339

This talk of snow became tiresome.
(Clearwater Beach, Florida, April 2013)
Yesterday we took a fragmented journey down a sacred river or two and you might remember it snowed because of the poor excuse for a poetry ear worm I'd inflicted on myself. In good news, I seem to be cured.

But I got to thinking of other, better snow poems and there's one that appeared in these pages before, but it's so good you're getting it again. It's by Jared Carter, Indiana poet (find his books here; if you're not familiar with his work there's no better time), who has been very, very kind to me; his poem 'Snow' is everything a snow poem should be:

At every hand there are moments we
cannot quite grasp or understand. Free 

to decide, to interpret, we watch rain 
streaking down the window, the drain 

emptying, leaves blown by a cold wind. 
At least we sense a continuity in such 

falling away. But not with snow. 
It is forgetfulness, what does not know, 

has nothing to remember in the first place. 
Its purpose is to cover, to leave no trace 

of anything....

Whoa. Snow has 'nothing to remember in the first place. / Its purpose is to cover....' How can I read that without thinking of my other fav Carter poems, Geodes: 'They are useless, there is nothing / to be done with them, no reason, only the finding....' The snow falling, hiding everything; the geode, 'waiting in darkness,' hidden naturally, waiting to be found, 'crystal turning on crystal.' 

For some reason Geodes always makes me want to cry, or climb inside it, no matter how many times I read it. I have a small, gray half-geode I bought at Put-in-Bay (where you actually can descend inside a geode) (and I have) that I keep on my desk at work; on particularly oppressive days (Emily would understand), I run my fingers over the opening, watch the light slant off its exposed secrets, and remember "I want to know only that things gather themselves / with great patience, that they do this forever." Especially helpful on an afternoon that seems to last forever, when patience (which we talked about Monday) gives us short shrift.

I'd be remiss in talking about snow poems to ignore one everyone knows: 'The only other sound’s the sweep /  Of easy wind and downy flake,' Frost's mysterious verse (suicidal or just appreciative of a scenic moment? Discuss.) It's not the only poem he wrote about snow; in this one, snow rather seems to have turned a bad day around. Obviously, Mr. Frost got snow, too.

Someday I'd like to write about the quietness of snow; that's the part I like; but it might look something like this:

Shhhhhhhhh.            Shhhhhhhhhhhhh.                     Whishhhhhhhh. 

Lots of white space and whoooshing. Actually kind of boring. 

Oh yea, thanks Stevie: Have you seen your reflection in the snow-covered hills?

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