Thursday, July 15, 2010

unexpected snowfall

Back in the fifties, there was room for surprise.
A tornado had to be twirling in your front yard
before the local news station was aware of it.
The soft arrival of a snowstorm was like a visit
from the Tooth Fairy while you were sleeping.
It seemed that meteorological reports came
by way of Morse Code or the Pony Express.

So, you are five years old and full of pancakes
drenched with Aunt Jemima. Your tummy is full.
You get in your Popeye the Sailor Man pajamas
and sleep the sleep of flying dreams and Zoro.

The next morning a wonderland greets you.
A deep snow has fallen overnight like magic.
That is why the fifties were such a cool thing.
Forget James Dean or Elvis or Marilyn Monroe.

And it was real good down in South Arkansas,
where unexpected snowfall made you crazy
because you had a lot of room for surprise.

The front yard beautiful with dusted pin oaks.
The side yards unseen, so left there to just be.
But the backyard! The backyard! The dawn mist
hanging there like the breath of unbuilt snowmen.
With hardly any light yet spoiling winter's trick.

The large friendly pines out there are now strange.
They seem confused and mumble their quiet shock.
You are also not sure of what has happened here.
Did God spread out this gift that makes your heart
beat so fast and beat so warm and beat so happy?

You are ready now to leap and run into the snowfall,
but you wait with the back door cracked open a bit.
You wish to keep this moment forever, this waiting
in front of a tangible dream coming out of nowhere.

Now I am very far from the time of that occasion.
Now is a sweltering summer burning up the grass.
But this is the best time to remember that winter.
This is the best time to wave at that young boy.
He will look at you funny. You wink back smiling.
You ask him to stop half-way out in the backyard...
to look around quietly at the unbelievable scene,
to listen carefully for the heartbeat of a divinity...

to confirm for you that no misjudgment in the snow
had been made on that morning of transcendence.

Copyright 2010, Tim Buck


  1. "You are ready now to leap and run into the snowfall,
    but you wait with the back door cracked open a bit."

    Thinking about this ... I wonder if this is not the *wisdom* of the adult infused into the memories of the child. Either that or you were an incredibly wise child ... to pause there for a moment and take it all in. It took me decades to learn this, and even now I'm still learning it. This is everything, isn't it? It's the cherry blossom just before the bloom, or afterwards the petal falling off the bloom and being carried away by the wind. :)

    Excellent poem.

  2. Thanks. My "memory" ("memory" in severe quotes) is that I did indeed pause. But like you say, that could very well be an adult embellishment.