Literary Hook: ‘Listen to the Snow’: Snow has the power to silence everything

Christine Swanberg

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

There’s no denying it: soon, we will have real winter, which often brings big snow. Last year when we had our blizzard, I was struck by the tranquility of our “snow days.” I think it was one of the only times the schools were closed for two days in a row. Here is a poem celebrating the kind of snow that silences everything.

Listen to the Snow

The summer sedum slump, bedraggled by a bedlam of new snow,

snow so thick it bends the large lilacs and topples prairie grass.

At last, the city is perfectly quiet, its recent crime wave on hold,

snow a better antidote to violence than all the men with guns.

A blizzard brings out the best in neighbors. This minute Anthony,

snow still falling gently on his blue parka, shovels the driveway

of our oldest resident, here on our quaint street where maples hold snow on their bare limbs. Everything is closed. We settle in,

reconfiguring our day to meet the snow’s agenda. Today

snow is the Boss of Everything: school, traffic, appointments,

meetings, choirs, trysts, operations, helicopters, vacations obey

snow’s sweet command: Stop everything you are doing. Be still.

Adjust your entire day, so says the snow. Finish that book,

snow says. Be kind to your neighbors and pets. Fill the bird feeder.

Clear your desk. Call your mother. Write this poem. Learn to wait,

snow says. Listen to the glorious complete quiet of this day.

Tomorrow, when the city has done its best to rid the pestilence of

snow, when we’ve had enough of snowmen and hot chocolate,

tomorrow, when things get back to normal, whatever that may be,

snow’s sweet quiet will linger for a moment, then melt into

the day’s business as usual. But in your bones you know

snow transforms like a powerful meditation, a great reminder

that there’s something to be said for that slow silence

snow bestows on anyone who cares to listen to the snow.

Published in Severson Dells Newsletter, Fox Cry Review, and Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet.

From the Jan. 4-10, 2012, issue

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