First Rain, Then Snow

The spirit moves in the moment,
not in the hour.
In the sudden flick of flesh,
turn of phrase, a raised hand
you are separated
from your previous life—and still you say
“Everything is fine.”
Except always one thing is not fine:
you forget to love your spouse one day and
it stretches into three, or at work
someone in your department tightens his grip
until you turn your face
to a new direction;

and by consigning yourself away from the world,
by saying no to those who cross your office door
with the intention of demeaning you,
abusing you in seminar
because you have not held the proper theory
or sought after their truth,
you cut their power, you stop the fight.
You have been given this moment
not to speak aloud
but to say to yourself
what you want from life.

Now, lying on the bed, you see
out the window the tops of three trees
and with these you measure
first rain, then snow, then rain again,
then light, then dark, then leaves,
then wind. None of these
encroach on you or appear to make you
less than you are; neither do they
help much when you turn to your pillow
or rise, understanding that
the children’s voices downstairs will eventually
call up to you.

Questions and Answers

About “First Rain, Then Snow”:

When asked about my writing, I am sometimes reminded of this comment by Michael Ondatjee’s in Transitions III: Poetry (CommCept Publishing, 1978): “What I believed or felt when I wrote these poems is obviously not what I believe or feel now. One little nuance, one little image, and everything changes.”

This poem “First Rain, Then Snow” originally appeared in DeMille’s Utopian Fantasy. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 145 (Summer 1995): 105.

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