Words on a Snowy Afternoon (March 2015)


I tried to write something today.

And though my tongue puzzled over them,

the words wouldn’t break the seal of my lips.

I can describe those words—

they were watery blue with cottony swatches.

They floated like balloons to the roof of my mouth,

their spontaneous suspension inspired

by a legion of poetic voices.


Those words blossomed

at the sight of my Mennonite neighbor,

catching my car up on a hook.

His hands were the tawny color of leather gloves;

I imagined him slipping them on each morning.

But the words were gluey and shy;

they cowered in the ridges of my palate.


I stared out over the snow.

It ran on like a nervous rambling.

The cold inundated my sweater.

I pirouetted on the ice and,

as the sun reached tentatively for my back,

was disarmed by a sudden warmth.

The snow crowded my ankles, though,

and my body began to wonder softly,

muscles murmuring beneath my skin.


The words were lost between us.


But in their absence,

we were caught in a photographer’s frame,

and the fences and the telephone wire

and the snow-covered predator that was the road

ran rampant through the world.


And all I could think of

was how the words had left me.




“Words on a Snowy Afternoon” appears in Hiram College’s Echo (2016) and the University of Mount Union’s Calliope (2016).
For a discussion on the feedback this poem has received, please see The Write Blog.

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