The shutters in the sky
shake a dull chewy grey
as the snow begins its descent,
the heavy flakes fall and fall,
jagging with the wind,
obscuring the ground.
I am cooped up inside myself, waiting,
fixed by a frozen clock,
a prison without mirrors.
Pirrelvag, the Eskimos say,
a “dreadful blizzard.”
I finally step outside,
mummied into a coat,
boots brittle and sinking.
A great damp stillness has blanketed the earth,
twenty-eight inches of limbo this is.
The cold spreads its arms,
bloats the landscape,
this wet slap of weather,
wind shrill around me,
the blood backing off my body, my fingers, my brain,
abandoning the five senses,
almost stops the heart…
A sharpness moves across my face,
the images hitting my eyes like needles, crystals,
in this supposedly picturesque and mythical scene.
But the drifts are waiting, lunar,
sitting like crouching giants and
I feel only heaviness as
the nerves unbutton the length of my spine;
I huddle into myself,
my breath bouncing back towards me.
Snow, you speak to me,
with incandescent tongue,
poisoned mazes of ice, bitter and mournful,
you smell of catastrophe.
I see you blind and one-handed,
you demand, you demand,
you twist all possible dimensions into your own,
you delete from me all other colors,
your face corroded, crippled, persistent.
A mammoth work, I am fixed,
stuck down on the outspread map
like a cold blue thumbtack.
It is hard to believe any life forms can survive this,
the slow change from ice to thin air.
Words here are pointless
as calling in a vacant wilderness…
Protestation slows me, stumbles in me,
numbs me as I dig,
my shoulders sore and ragged,
carving out my spot, over and over, emerging
as the sly featherless bird sings its raucous punctured song.
The drifts heal quietly of the wounds
left by my exertions,
the plows have come and the snow is banked around the driveway,
marled with dirt in mountainous shards.
My skin is furred now…
I flake apart, layer by layer
quietly to the bone,
cringing under the cracked whip of winter.
I hold grudges against the snow, this dead blue,
this weight around my neck.
There is no grace in snow,
a hermitage of ice,
pingo, the “ice lens,” the Inuit say,
the bland madness of snows,
the brutal face forming,
gradual as glaciers,
out of stone.