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Lisa Zimmerman

on winter poems



Cloudless Snowfall by Franz Wright

Great big flakes like white ashes

at nightfall descending

abruptly everywhere

and vanishing

in this hand like the host

on somebody’s put-out tongue, she

turns the crucifix over

to me, still warm

from her touch two years later

and thank you,

I say all alone—

Vast whisp-whisp of wingbeats

awakens me and I look up

at a minute-long string of black geese

following low past the moon the white

course of the snow-covered river and

by the way Thank You for

keeping Your face hidden, I

can hardly bear the beauty of this world.


After a Death by Tomas Tranströmer

Once there was a shock

that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.

It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.

It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun

through brush where a few leaves hang on.

They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.

Names swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat

but often the shadow seems more real than the body.

The samurai looks insignificant

beside his armor of black dragon scales.


Catalogue of Silence by Charlotte Matthews


There’s a new foal in the field beside the road,

and when I drive by, he is pacing back and forth

looking for something he will never need to find.


Next door, children skate on February ice, circling

each other in paths swept clean of snow.


In the Middle Ages, all the hours of the day, monks bent

over velum, illuminating the Bible: each E

curly as a ram’s horn, O holding dominion,


over the parable as if to say there is nothing

more wild than a mouth open in awe.


Once upon a time there was a mime, and each door

he closed never made a sound

even though he did it all the days of his life.