August 18, 2011

Harry Newman

EARLY SNOW

I put on my gloves, the ones
whose seams have burst that
you think I should get rid of.
But I like them, the brown
cracked leather and fur lining
coming out in a few places.
It’s snowing and I want to see it:
the first snow and an early one.
I am a child still when it comes
to snow, having grown up in Miami,
and it can still bring back, if only
for a while, a sense of trust
and wonder, a child’s infinite
expectation from the world.
I put on my parka, the coat
I got when I moved up north,
nearly thirty years old,
that I tell you will end up
one day in the Smithsonian.
It’s been snowing all morning,
but I’ve been working inside,
and know there’s little point
in looking out the windows
of our basement apartment.
Four inches already, at just past
noon, according to the radio,
and I think of that time it snowed
in Miami, how excited we were,
the first snow ever, they told us
over the P.A., then let us into
the schoolyard to see it: small
glints of ice, maybe the size
of grains of sand, dropping
through the sky towards us—
all looking up, our mouths open,
even though we were teenagers—
but never reaching the ground.
Outside the world is blanketed,
nothing shoveled yet or plowed.
The dog is with me and runs
up the stairs to the sidewalk.
We’re the first to break the scene,
our legs sinking with every step.
I watch him spinning and jumping,
snow falling slowly onto his coat.
It falls on me, too, and makes me
want to look up again, mouth open,
waiting for the snow to reach me
this time, and forget, if only for
a while, the clothes I could never
afford, the house we may never have,
the life I had wanted to give you by now.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010

__________

Harry Newman: “Most of my poems are about yearning, and ‘Early Snow’ is one of the most direct and autobiographical expressions of that. I recall the day so clearly, the snow falling, walking up the steps from our basement apartment, that earlier memory the poem helped me excavate. In many ways, I remain that boy with his mouth held open, waiting for the world’s Communion that has never come.”