Photo: Guardian UK

Snow is now a fact of this winter in most of the country—indeed, more of the nation than is usually the case.

Here, J.C. Todd shows us how a poet can turn fact into a fast-speeding sled down the hillsides of memory to where emotions careen in the harsh landscape of the heart’s darkest place. We agree with Todd that this poem suits the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. annual commemoration, which Todd calls “a day for all of us to consider what we have buried unaddressed over the years.”

Snow Blind

Twelve snows this season, after those I lost
my count, lost sense of end and start up, ground
and air. Everywhere white blued to blur.
Was it sleet that thickened sky or snowy seed
broadcast so amply it rooted in the stone
and steel of cityscape and grew, a glaze

that layered over and reshaped the glaze
that, days before, misplaced the region, lost
it under drifts so deep they rose like stone-
capped mountains? I don’t know what’s ground.
The slur of melt and halite, slick as seed
pearls underfoot, or pear-shaped earth, a blur

of blue that slips through milky, marbled ur-
light? Were burnt-out stars let loose to glaze
with icy ash this world too harsh for seed?
All winter I’ve blundered through old fears, lost
in questions, slipping over memory’s ground,
where remorse has frozen image into stone.

All winter I’ve wakened fuzzy as though stoned
or slugged by cold, language crackled, blurred
to white noise in my skull, my dreams ground
into smithereens, a midden of glazed-
over unspokens that have buried what I’ve lost—
the infant, for instance, who failed between seed

and birth, the lover whose rage superceded
desire, the parent whose granite stone
marked the threshold of forgetting, where loss
barred love’s door. Fixed in winter, I’m blurred
to myself, till I chip through the glacier,
blinded by luster, listening for ground,

that thunk of earth or truth enough to ground
on. It’s a slippery business to recede
from grief and shameful silence, to deglaze
the rigid tongue and, from a frieze like stone,
to free what I know for sure from the blur
of not allowed to know. To find what’s lost.

Can I stand my ground against forgetting’s stone
wall to recall the stories blurred as sea-glass
and, speaking of my loss, turn it to seed?

J. C. Todd

From  The Cortland Review, 1999.

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