One must have a mind of winter
The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens is one of my favourite poems. It is a poem that has haunted me. I didn’t love it straight away – the first time I read it, I thought nothing of it, or thought I did. But then, every time I’ve come across it, I take the time to read it again.
I like that the resolution of the first line, the conclusion, is held off, sustained by the poem until line 8, but then this is only half a resolution, and the poem pushes onward again.
What does a mind of winter feel like?
Who am I talking to in my poem? Not to him. Maybe to you. Maybe to myself.
Who is Wallace Stevens talking to? There is a snow man. There is a ‘himself’. There is a male listener in the snow. Could he be talking to me? A mind of winter
Who am I telling this story to, where nothing really happened, apart from the snow falling, and everything, almost everything stopping.
Whenever it snows, I think of this poem. I think of that night.
I am glad I live in a place now where it hardly ever snows.
There is too much salt in the air. I live too close to the sea.
This is as close to a narrative as I can get.
I hardly ever read this poem out.
Even though it’s made of nothing but snow and air and light
It fell all day and cut off each street.
Nothing worked the way it was
supposed to. Cars abandoned
at the sides of roads. The snow
with a silent, insistent will of its own.
People in suits hurried past,
smiling despite themselves,
despite being late, snowlight
on their faces, opened up
at the slow speed of moving.
The traffic lights flashed
red/amber/green and every bus
brought shuddering to its knees.
In that quiet light he looked
taller than in the morning
when I left, everything black
about him, his coat and shoes
and trousers, his hands and heart
and eyes. How pleased
he was to see me, his arm heavy
on my shoulders. The smell
of his leather coat filled my nose
and took the cold away.
I told myself it was just a dog I heard,
that night on the street
when all I could see was snow.
I almost turned but then I followed.
I followed to the darkness of our home.