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Snow Language

by Suzanne E. Berger


I

It is snowing in soft footfalls,
Fred and Ginger in the slate-colored light,

the radiance broken
into white quarks,
a redundancy in the beautiful dusk of white

It snows until the great snow-heart breaks —
throwing its white bouquets at us
and we catch the white-scissored streamers

Look:   snow is a broken constellation,
a fabric of diatoms

seeded down to us
A gathering substance like chalk
as it zigzags to earth:

Such joy is not hard to pronounce


II

Snow floating down on the backs of dogs
in a large brown field

on the one who bites at the flakes
and runs to its owner, who shouts out:
Isn’t the dog so goddamn beautiful in the snow!

Once it was snowing down
in gray city-snow outside the car
where I made up a story called Snow Soup

for the daughter who cherished me then
And we held our paper cups outside the window
to catch the particles of white broth,

held them out again to the snow for seasoning
like the white pepper of heaven
Snow of cold remembrance

snow of mothers
snow of the fathers
Snow of children to whom

you were once the snowy world


III

Snow: the fat joy of it
The dumbfounding blast of purity

to taste on your ready tongue
Once I saw myself happy
at the captured deep design

of the world,
unpredictable as a snowdrift:
the expected whirls and weight,

the variations welcome, the cold known
And myself glistening white
like the wind going free toward

the long release of summer
Wind blowsy through the snow-cleaved trees
I was happy, I remember it—I am certain:

this last, the most difficult to pronounce

 

Suzanne E. Berger teaches advanced students in poetry at the Lesley Seminars at Lesley University. She has two books of poetry, These Rooms (Penmaen Press, 1979) and Legacies (Alice James Books, 1984) and a book of non-fiction, Horizontal Woman (Houghton Mifflin, 1997). Her work has also appeared in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, AGNI, Harvard Review, and elsewhere, and she has received a Pushcart Prize and a grant from the Somerville (Mass.) Arts Council. (11/2003)


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