Snow in the city is beautiful for about a day, sometimes two days if it’s a blizzard and no plows or cars can get through the streets. The minute the plows go through, that beauty degenerates into muddy ice, brown clumps flung up on curbs, nearly impassable single-file streets where cars take turns one by one. Snow in upstate New York, where I grew up, is beautiful for months (and months and months) on end, because there’s nothing to interfere with it. White and blue and green and pink, all the colors of snow in the shifting light, turn every field and wood into calm. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the rumble of snowplows sweeping down Route 274, their orange revolving light circling the walls of my room. Someone out there is taking care of us, is what the memory of that sound still feels like to me.
The Snow Arrives After Long Silence
– by Nancy Willard
The snow arrives after long silence
from its high home where nothing leaves
tracks or stains or keeps time.
The sky it fell from, pale as oatmeal,
bears up like sheep before shearing.
The cat at my window watches
amazed. So many feathers and no bird!
All day the snow sets its table
with clean linen, putting its house
in order. The hungry deer walk
on the risen loaves of snow.
You can follow the broken hearts
their hooves punch in its crust.
Night after night the big plows rumble
and bale it like dirty laundry
and haul it to the Hudson.
Now I scan the sky for snow,
and the cool cheek it offers me,
and its body, thinned into petals,
and the still caves where it sleeps.
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