Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In which I post about -- surprise! -- Snow...

Today, much of the United States has received snow in some quantity or another. Parts of Europe are still under their own blankets of white. Before I head out to shovel my driveway, I wanted to post the following poem, by one of my all-time favorite poets, Thomas Lux. This poem is from his book, The Drowned River, published in 1990, by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Old Man Shoveling Snow

Bend your back to it, sir: for it will snow all night.
How gently they sink -- white spiders,
multi-bladed bleak things,
these first, into the near mirror
of your shovel's surface. It snows,
lightly -- wide columns
of black between each flake --

but it will snow all night, and thicker.
So you start now and scrape
your driveway of its first half inch.
Every hour you will plow
it down and up again.
It's not a grave
you dig, nor a path to school,

nor is there a dot of philosophy
in this work: you clear it as it falls
so as not to lift the heavy load at dawn.
The lanes behind you whiten,
imperceptibly hiss, and several --
smoke-roses, epaulets -- bite
your back, your closed shoulders.

So soft, stubborn, it falls, parting
the streetlamp's light
harder, larger, and the whole cold neighborhood
bandaged. On the corner
the salt and sand box,
the mailbox (such white
on blue!) could be art

but aren't. You should move
a little faster now behind
the shovel -- push once your twenty feet
of drive and it fills.
Soon it will take two.
Bend your back to it, sir: for it
will snow all night.

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