If I were not so cold I would go out
into that emptiness to fine pure words.
Instead I think of the snow piling up, how
it is like sugar falling through a floor crack
at the foot of a dark mountain, some house
abandoned, the work done, the family gone …
What I have seen, all night, is the white surge …
with its own form, its fate, to which
I am nothing watching. I should not stay here.
I should go where words make a clumsy shape
against this heavy drift, where the self
I am can speak its forgiveness in its own
house, in its own tongue …
Whoever I am, whatever words I badly use,
may we come to the pure heat of our bodies
and keep in ourselves the dark edges
no snow in this world ever softened enough.
— Dave Smith, from “In Snow, A Possible Life,” in Floating on Solitude: Three Volumes of Poetry (University of Illinois Press, 1996)