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This Afternoon, Snow

Susan Stenson


"But you already know this sadness
is constant as summer
And the birds, who know everything,
keep singing" Wendy Morton, "It's Nearly Father's Day".

Now I understand the season.
Why I travelled west in December
to this small island where they say
it never snows, the sea, too temperate,
the sky too tentative. Travelled
3,000 kilometres: How did I know
it takes so many years to leave snow behind?
But you already know this sadness.

It's the silence I'd forgotten
when snow falls, the quiet when
everything gets left, for a moment, behind.
The snow is falling on the birds—the smallest
ones say nothing. Pick at the feeder
with a generous calm. Their hearts
weighing the facts: It's snowing
—what shall we take with us?
Everything so lovely now, knowing
that grief, when snow falls
is constant as summer.

I cannot see the garden,
or any use for memory
and what sorrow is, knowing
we cannot leave it behind.
The tangible weight
of spring, summer, fall.
A sparrow's small flirtations
light on the feeder. And me
forgetting Icarus also flew.
And the birds, who know everything,

know enough for birds.
I understand I am too patient with hunger.
Sit at the table for days and wonder what
I'm doing there. A dog asleep at my feet.
It's snowing and they said, it never snows.
A house grows dark, the snow. An inferno
of owls hovers in the halo that snow makes.
A delicate thaw? I remember the silence
of snow while birds, green in their waiting,
keep singing.



Susan Stenson's works copyright © to the author.


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