March 2011

Reserved Seating for the Snow

listen to this poem
 
It must be blasphemy, in late February, to declare my infatuation with the snow
storm
in Chicago. On Carmen Avenue, the city is quiet, three blocks over a car alarm
bleats;
the whole of the night is pale, the trees, the cars, the driveways and roads all
softened,
made beautiful, so I decide to walk out and make the first tracks, the first steps in
a world
where snow falls upon snow like that’s all the world has ever known or wants
to know,
I am the pilgrim, the pioneer, and the snow a muffler, a cape, a drape, a change,
and look,
here come two guys holding hands, homosexual, at least in the snow, and look,
an old lady
walks a little white poodle, as if she keeps the snow on a red leather leash and
lets the snow
sniff the snow. A hipster mounts his bike, and launches himself into the slush
and CTA buses
on Clark Street, and I hope he doesn’t fall under the blades of someone’s sleigh.
A lanky dude’s
dreadlocks become interwoven with snow, moments after he’s gone inside he’ll
become a prince
crowned with silvery droplets, on this night for black overcoats this night
for wide
and hand-knitted mufflers, this night that smoothes the sharp antlers
of the trees—
until the salt trucks roar through, let’s declare the entire neighborhood a chilly
outpost
for some tentative and tender kingdom of God. Black bench at the bus stop?
Reserved seating
for the snow. The local street musician, a beggar with Tourette’s? His trumpet
snow-bound,
his shoulders decked, he curses the snow because he can’t help it.
Cars parked
on the street? Boulders in the meadow right next to the glacier. A runner,
bare-legged, exhaling
steam? Clearly, the man is insane. Black Labradors in the snow. Their noses
are notepads,
they are the first investigators to arrive on the scene, and report back
to the Committee of Unexpected Happiness.