Thursday, December 6, 2007

What Minnesotans Write About In December

White is Not the Absence of Color

This is not the season's
first snow - it is the second. Shoveling
narrow paths on city sidewalks; this is not
how we want to spend our early evenings,
but we do it anyways. This is not a perfect
snowfall, yesterday's polluted snow
salt-and-peppers today's fresh batch,
mingling to dingy gray. This is not
purity, not beauty, not truth
in somewhat silence, in scraping
of metal against black ice, frozen ground.
This is not our destiny, our winter weight
straining against this heavy burden.
This is not enough exercise
for our brittle bodies, not an excuse
to spend time outside in a turquoise
twilight. This is not our favorite chore,
not breaking angry icicles clinging to gutters
like grudges. This snow packed path
I made for us to day is not
an escape route, not an uphill battle,
twenty feet long and two feet wide,
eight inches of snow on each side. It is only
a ribbon-white shoveled path
unspooling ahead, pulling
us towards both ground and sky.

13 Comments:

...deb said...

Such a great outlaying of "it's nots" to "it is only"...and the way you bring the (incredibly good!) title back around to the end is terrific.

"unspooling ahead, pulling" really brings that sense of relentlessness.

Poet with a Day Job said...

I like where you went with this - it was unexpected. Nice poem.

tumblewords said...

I know those feelings and you've said them well...the ending is a pleasant surprise! Nice!

dick said...

A fine piece of construction with its rhythmic declarations of negatives leading up to the final powerful image.

Mike Mc said...

I lived in St Paul for a decade, this sure sounds familiar. Too familiar. Good job.

Rob Kistner said...

Super piece!

kate said...

beautiful! and i'm such a sucker for writing that talks about what something is not. don't know why, that's just something i've always loved. it's been snowing here all morning, so this was a lonely poem to start my day with. thanks jett.

kate said...

yipes! i meant lovely, not lonely. funny typo though. reminds me of when steve wright would point out that some typos end up better than the words originally intended...

Jo said...

I really liked this too.......saying what something is not works well. And the end does indeed spool. Lovely.

Linda said...

Now, every time I'm out shoveling, I'll think of this poem! "ground and sky" Love that ending!

Mad Kane said...

Very nice!
Mad Kane

aka Danny Wise said...

It's snow joke is it?
If it's gonna snow - it's gonna snow!
Like the way you wrote this.

Crafty Green Poet said...

very cold, very atmospheric, I just can't imagine that much snow...