Poems

Louis Groarke: Urban Blizzard: Québec

Urban Blizzard: Québec

Τὰ ψυχρὰ θέρεται, θερμὸν ψύχεται, ὑγρὸν αὐαίνεται, καρφαλέον νοτίζεται.

(Cold becomes hot; what is hot, cold, the wet, dry; the dry, wet.)

—Heraclitus

like insects, snowflakes slowly swarm
all day long inside the storm
on every surface they alight
on straight and sharp and bent alike
they end each journey where they lie
then fall asleep and gently die
collect in piles on every side
like dead insects cast aside

mills and factories on the hill
are silent now—they stand there still
the roads are blocked, the city square
is ringed with cars abandoned there
the stores have closed, the schools shut down
heaps of snow, each home surround

the snowfall spreads its flimsy weave
the news has promised no reprieve
imprisoned now and locked indoors
we shelter seek from winter’s wars
we peer through windows, peeved, dismayed
as nature mocks our routine ways
we curse, complain, prayers upward throw
heaven’s only answer: still more snow

the storm to human pleas aloof
indifferent drapes each step and roof
we busy sweep the frozen ground
dig through snowbanks, soft and round
we chisel out each cornered stair
restore sharp angles hidden there
on driveways, sidewalks shovel hard
do our best to clean the yard

waves of snow engulf the lawn
with shovels raised, we battle on
with heavy effort push aside
the tempest’s rolling, pure white tide
through knee-high billows, tired wade
remake the paths—too soon unmade

snowblowers pass on giant wheels
with crooked necks of gleaming steel
their armour shines, the engines roar
they lumber past like dinosaurs
they swallow snowbanks, whirl and whine
clearing streets in long straight lines

back and forth—with iron shields
ploughs scrape off snow from asphalt fields
trucks hurry past with snow piled high
as evening dumps a fresh supply
the noise subsides, the town gives in
the battle lapses as night begins
machines and workers back away
retreat from darkness, wait for day
silence, stillness comes at last
as soft white stars keep floating past

I leave the yard and venture out
to see what snowscapes lie about
this cold white ash, like shifting sand
has buried objects where they stand
concrete blocks, now bundled white
shine dappled in the street-lamps’ light
the leafless trees in long straight lines
they blossom now in wintertime

I think of life what nature means
to leave behind such lovely scenes
how quickly weather changes form
the cold comes in, drives out the warm
how quick when lovers break apart
a chill invades the warmest heart
how soon we change once love is lost
the hard arrives, defeats the soft

we live in boxes, patterned lives
without warning, snows arrive
we dust off walls that shut us in
as Earth beneath us slowly spins
we scrape off corners, straighten curves
tidy things to calm our nerves
with ordered routine, wreck our lives
with cold sharp words that cut like knives

so frequent now, how dear the cost
the cold kills warm, the hard, the soft
for this one night, in sleeping towns
the soft prevails and hardness drowns
silence is the loudest sound
as soft white stars keep drifting down.

Louis Groarke

 

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