Let Us Praise the Early Falling Snow
Let us praise the early falling snow, then. Let us praise the lucky occurrence of winter in summer. For it is still officially summer, but here in Edmonton, we’ve had a bit of foreshadowing. And it’s good. Not all that unusual here. It’s snowed four out of the last five Septembers, and the only month in Edmonton when it hasn’t snowed is July.
This type of weather is good for poets, too. When early snow falls, it’s time to praise. It’s time to sit and look out windows, and to look at our daily life.
from Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus
by Denise Levertov
Praise the wet snow
Praise the shadow
my neighor's chimney casts on the tile roof
even this gray October day that should, they say,
have been golden.
the invisible sun burning beyond
the white cold sky, giving us
light and the chimney's shadow.
god or the gods, the unknown,
that which imagined us, which stays
our murderous hand,
and gives us
in the shadow of death,
our daily life,
and the dream still
of goodwill, of peace on earth.
flow and change, night and
the pulse of day.
Perhaps it’s too early to think about winter being the best time, but I’m ready for the quiet of winter, the contemplation one finds there. I’m ready to slow things down.
Winter Is the Best Time
by David Budbill
Winter is the best time
to find out who you are.
Quiet, contemplation time,
away from the rushing world,
cold time, dark time, holed-up
pulled-in time and space
to see that inner landscape,
that place hidden and within.
I’m ready, too, to get back to disappearing.
The Art Of Disappearing
by Naomi Shihab Nye
When they say Don’t I know you?
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
If they say we should get together.
It’s not that you don’t love them any more.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.
When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.
Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.
I’m going to remember these flowers, the way snow can come out of nowhere, unseasonable, when someone invites me to a party. I’m going to decide what to do with my time carefully. Things can change so quickly.
The snow falling early as it has, reminds me of an article I’ve been saving for a while, about Jorie Graham in The Guardian, which came out when her book Fast was published. In this excerpt, she talks about the stage she is at in her career and her life:
“It comes not only late in her career and in her life, a gathering for which she feels she has been preparing always – “You have to be ready for the late work. Make sure you develop a toolkit that’s wide enough for every middle stage and especially for the end” – but also is imbued, through and through with a feeling of “too-lateness”: we meet her father as a body, after he has died; that last poem begins with her mother’s hands drawing her in the air but is also about her mother having disappeared into dementia; we are almost too late climatically, perhaps too late in terms of “what we’ve done, digitally, to a generation.””
The article continues:
“I am living in the late season,” says Graham, but “but it has its songs, too. I have to find what they are. I wouldn’t be writing the poems if I didn’t think they were leading to a kind of consciousness that would allow one to become more fully awake, even in this period which is trying everything it can to shut one down.” Making things visible, looking, feeling – “they are my form of resistance”.
One of the messages of the snow: prepare.
As Graham says, you have to be ready for the late work. You have to begin stocking the toolbox, you have to prepare for wintering. How will your songs emerge in the bright snow, the cold ahead?