Snow as Versions of Different Things (Fargo)

By JON THOMPSON

desire
In the flat uninhabited spaces, snow falls from an empty sky. Here and there, the bare branches of an oak are black against the steadily-falling flakes. When the air is thick with them, it’s not white, exactly, but a glowing bluish-white, shading to grey as evening comes on, darkness in tow. Snow accumulates like loneliness, one snowfall covering the last one, layering into snowdrifts that become the landscape.

naïveté
The landscape is cruel in its monotony, in its lethality. Cleverness here can lead to intolerable frustration. Better to cultivate a good-humored disposition to living in the here-and-now, becoming a connoisseur of the quotidian. Naïveté may be thought of as a form of regional loyalty, in which a seemingly-naïve individual elects to embrace a culture lacking in prestige. It’s possible that a naïf may be best suited to interpreting signs; it’s possible that those regarded as naïve may evidence genius.

 

silence
Genius of the winter sun is that it makes the cold white expanses theatrical. Every sound happens between silences; silence is the default condition of the land. Sudden noises, mechanical noises, appear to violate something like a primeval natural compact. For many, the long silences punctuated by soughing winds are unendurable, a Nordic torment that goes with the long darkness, the deep cold. In a land defined by long silences, there are no successful lies.
death
Lies, unworthy of the earth, lie buried in the snow, intact until snowmelt. The fields, the trees, the sky, the heart-clenching cold—even the ice sheeting the highway blacktop—exist as a reminder of the imminence of death: domain of the high, shiny, blue-black, earth-scanning things. Death makes us statuary. Though few seek it, everyone finds the white gift of oblivion. Everyone forced to forge new paths of exile through an unknown land.

 

Jon Thompson edits Free Verse: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry & Poetics and the single-author poetry series Free Verse Editions.

[Purchase your copy of Issue 05 here] 

Snow as Versions of Different Things (Fargo)

Related Posts

july 2020 poetry feature

July 2020 Poetry Feature: Steven Leyva and Elizabeth Scanlon

STEVEN LEYVA
Get down to the smallest birthright / I cannot claim: say beignets / and doesn’t the stutter of hot oil start / to sizzle the small plates of memory? / Faces powdered with sugar, no thought / to whose ancestors cut which cane, sing / a hymn of “mmm, mmm, mmm.”

Illustration of dolphin

July 2020 Poetry Feature: Loren Goodman

LOREN GOODMAN
In these last hours / Of the Passover Seder / It is said by the higher / Chasidic Scholars that time / Loses its essence and that / We are at least once, with / The help of memory (at this / Time “even the future can be / Remembered”) able to defeat / It. Something to do / With the wine.

Skyline cropped

Goddamn

MORIEL ROTHMAN-ZECHER
The chunk of the ball / On the cracked blacktop / And our torsos so covered / In sweat nearby the sea / Swells and the smell seeps / Into our hair and the air / Turns into night all around us / And the pebbles of the ball / Still tickle our palms as smoke / Trickles into our lungs...