A Pocket of Resistance: Darkness in the White Snow

i am sitting in Room 205 at the CHI Parkridge Memorial Hospital. My sister Martha dozes in her hospital bed next to me. The Chattanooga day is damp and cloudy with rain on its way in the afternoon. But it is not quite as cold as when i arrived, and my sister’s condition is improving.

i should be writing my Tuesday column as the deadline is tomorrow morning. But i was doing an internet search to get background for the column item when my fat fingers hit the wrong key and one of my poems from several years ago popped up.

Two thoughts occurred to me. One, i am very glad our technology has given us GPS for travel directions. It has made my driving less stressful and getting me to a lot of places on time when without it, i would have been woefully late or completely failing to arrive. But i sort of miss the crazy routes and by-ways i no longer see because my errant turns have been eliminated, errant turns that led to discovery of places i liked. Two, my errant travel has been replaced by errant wanderings around the internet and my computer, usually caused by fat fingers hitting the wrong key, taking me to places i have not been in a while, like this poem.

Of course, i re-read my poem, if it is okay to call it that — i’ve never really considered myself a poet, but i just can’t narrow down a genre that fits: free verse?  i am, by far, my best and worse critic. i hope you enjoy it:

Darkness in the White Snow

in amongst the revelers, experts of the slopes
the old man found himself alone
in powder the first day after the night storm:
family had departed for duties;
the friend to join him had demurred:
the old man was alone
in white white.
He drudged through day one alone,
fighting through the powder,
feeling the muscles ache,
stiffened by age;
no running through the hills or
on the beach;
he left the slopes early,
taking a nap;
rested, he visited an old haunt:
like the newspaper man he was at heart,
returning to a bar
just like the old days
except there was no newspaper;
the stories were his, not reports for newsprint,
shared
with the old gent tossing down old fashions with the best of them.
day two, on the second run downhill,
the old man decided
to cut his trip short,
dedicating the day to old times:
he hit the slopes early:
perfect.
He rode to the top;
skied, skied
even better than he could remember:
he had always hit the slopes
like a linebacker,
but
this day he conquered the longest runs,
flowing gracefully down the gradient
on newly groomed slopes of elegance
of white on white
until age caught up
and
he fell ingloriously,
rolling erratically down the slope.
picking himself up, he thought:
“time to go,” and he went;
packing, he decided to have one last brew
at a local bar across the street
sitting there, he reveled in aloneness,
before he caught the van
to the cavernous airport,
much like the old bus depots
he had spent waiting in his youth;
SLC the code called it;
and
he caught the plane,
leaving aloneness behind him:
Time had stopped in his aloneness;
he wandered around in his mind
as he moved
down the slope,
onto the barstool,
into the terminal,
onto the plane;
he dreamed of her, a reality,
but
something he could not touch;
when he saw her in his dream,
he saw the past,
even while swishing down the slopes,
he would feel the old dog with him,
the ports of call,
the realities of ships at sea
a long, long time ago
and
they all seemed to fit
with the image of his muse,
which he had long abandoned
for cynicism.
on the plane ride back,
he looked out the small port
at the black sky,
realizing
she had been there
in his mind,
and
would likely be there for a long time,
someone he could not touch,
could not have
except
as old men have young friends,
and
he wondered
if he could be good for her,
which
he realized
was probably all that really mattered.

 

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