waitress poems

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


It always seems to be winter
when we come back here, miles
of trees glittering with ice,
cornfields flooded white--
and somewhere in the center,
a lonely figure in a snowmobile,
lost inside its mechanical hum.
Going back to the old mining town
that clusters at the top of the hill
is a process of rising, climbing,
ascending into a past as real
and unyielding as these mountains.
And just as unknowable.
Less than a century ago, my husband’s
grandparents came here from
Poland and Slovakia; they fitted themselves
to this sharp landscape.
Here they would go down into
the earth, and draw up an existence
we’ve grown too cossetted
to imagine. Here they would
spend the rest of their lives--
fifty or seventy-five
winters like this one, traveling
a road cut through mountain,
peering through black trees
into rough cut gorges, cold streams,
woods too deep
and impenetrable to fathom.

First appeared in The Ontario Review


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