Light Snow

by Jeffrey Harrison
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Just enough snow fell last night

to emphasize what’s there — nothing
fanciful, no octopi on the spruce boughs
or fungal protuberances in the garden —
just enough to highlight the cables
swooping in unison above the road
and to italicize the branches of the trees
out to their twiggy extremities
so that their complex articulations
might be legible. But what is it
I want to read in them? Just enough
to see what’s there a little more clearly?

Or a little more than that? I don’t know,
but what I see next is the snow
being blown from the trees in sudden
glittering puffs, one after another
of these literal illuminations
that swirl down and vanish,
dazzling, ungraspable.

Jeffrey Harrison ′80CC is the author of five books of poetry, including The Names of Things: New and Selected Poems and Incomplete Knowledge

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Hello, Jeffrey Harrison,
I was moved by your poem in unexpected ways. Here are some of my thoughts as I read and re-read your poem:

On first reading I was taken with the animation of the trees… their twiggy extremities, complex articulations.
On second reading I totally got the literary metaphore: "to highlight", "to italicize", "articulations legible", "want to read", "see what’s there more clearly", as if to say, "dear reader, there may be more if you read me again". What are these “literal” illuminations?
On the third reading, I witnessed my mother’s mind struggling to remember words and thoughts and memories. How so suddenly it seems the wind has blown the delicate contents of her brain, one thought and memory after another vanishing, ungraspable, like a dream that cannot be recalled.

Thank you for the unfolding experience of your poem. I look forward to the next reading.
Idelle Packer , alumni, Program in Physical Therapy '95

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