Midnight: an unexpected snow
Brightens our court at Golden Pines,
Thick whiteness caught in amber streetlight,
Moist cotton balls, fluffy on our small trees
In the clear Piedmont dawn.
It’s beautiful, our neighbors say,
Thinking of other places they have lived.
On my seventieth birthday I drive into town for barbecue,
Listening to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons,
Their soaring falsetto harmonies
From sorrowful New Jersey towns
Not far from my own,
The undertow of time,
Those unchangeable places of our birth
That took some of us a while to figure out.
At the funeral home, the casket truck,
Up from Mississippi, makes a stop:
The routineness of it.
It is afternoon, sixty degrees,
And, of course, the Carolina snow is gone,
Except for fringes in the roof’s shadow,
And by the curb, graying,
Like other snows I’ve seen.
“Yesterday’s Snow” appeared in Poets’ Touchstone, Winter 2009
1971: moonlight, cool, blue
On crisp, lightly glazed snow;
Wool scarves, boots,
Suburbs of Baltimore.
The young headmaster
Played lacrosse, taught poetry,
His cheerful wife,
Fresh, golden blonde
Junior League beauty,
From one of those Main Line schools
Where our glee club used to sing.
In the dining hall, dark walnut
Panels, linen table clothes,
Boys in blazers raise up
A cheer for their team.
February night pierces the lungs.
He offered me a job.
Late in life I’ve wondered
If I should have said yes,
The path that led
North toward home.