There Was Snow in the Night ~ G.C. Waldrep


There was snow in the night

and it was like a beacon on a rocky hill

that had decided to become


a flower, but then,

upon reflection, wasn’t quite sure

just what kind of flower it was—

aster, or anemone—and so


became an actress

or something glamorous

like that, endowed with a body

that moved as it wished

in the sunlight, until it became


a muscle, one of the minor ones,

the type a man doesn’t know he has

until he strains it, and thus


feels, in pain,

something like presence,


which is insatiable, so that the snow,

arriving in the night, was forced

to become a chapel


inside of which men and women

kept huddling, generation after generation,

their devotion made no sense

but the snow liked the way it felt

to have worshipers inside it,


or in flight

from some larger worship,


a smallish ocean

someone had forgotten about

and left out in the cold


like so much spare change

glued down by children, with their gum,

in the street and in the hope

of spectacle, an elder trying to pry


that small worth away


from the body

of a wren, or rather, from the idea

of that body, the snow thinks,

a little sad now, a little desperate,


a little bored with the vertical

and all the electronic chatter

the continents make

in their sleep, the tectonic gossip,


unlike the wren,


small, slender, elegant,

something with weight that nevertheless

manages to sustain

a figure

either for losing or for loss


through song, becoming

in turn a tongue, in search of a mouth,

which starts as a factory but ends


as a bandage, signature

of both the wound and its healing,

which seems like the right gesture

except that in the darkness


it’s difficult to see

just how much the snow resembles

the stars from which it appears


to have descended, a likeness shed

the way a snake sheds


its mythic predilection

for lying, each lie growing out of the lie

that preceded, children on holiday


chance upon the sloughed integument


and bear it home, carefully,

almost reverently,

with the corpses of mollusks

and funny-shaped rocks, constructing


their own shrines,

their own miniature devotionals

until the children themselves

decide to become


orchards, some drowned

or drowning, salt-inflected, others

laden with sweet fruit,

even in winter,

which one hand plucks, and wraps


in colored tissue paper,


and places in a box,

and the box onto the bed of a truck,

and thence into the hold of a ship

and across a wide space

of fish and virtue and ingratitude


and so on


and back out again,

so that eventually, another hand

brushes the garment


away from the ripened globe


and raises it

to a set of lips, which part,

to a set of teeth, which bite, and the taste


is something


like the sleep of a banker

in an airplane, and something

like looking through a microscope,

and something like a silk parachute

that has lain folded

on a closet shelf for so long

it has missed the war for which it had

been manufactured, intended,


like the reflection of an eye

in cold water,


a lamppost, or an arson,

something livid

or something burning,


like a hillside in winter, on which

fresh snow has fallen.