The Time of the SnowLate March is more winter than spring. Cold.
Rain falls and hail threatens all the windy way down
to El Dorado. I pull into your drive mid-morning and catch you
in the side yard studying a plastic waterfall, mid-assembly,
bought last week on sale at Home Depot
to force spring’s hand. You look up
and drop the tangled heap of hoses and cords.
I never count on you saying much, don’t
see it coming when over lunch you hold forth
how my birth found you some 57 years ago at 23
far from home a week before Christmas in Flint, MI,
on the assembly line at GM asking: How much longer?
How during the slow drive back from St. Joseph’s
through the pewter slush to the attic apartment
off Saginaw, nerve stole new into you from the side
where your only son rode swaddled on your wife’s lap.
You mustered the gumption to git, and lit out,
delivered us back among our Arkansas kin.
I come home hungry for Exodus,
take it in sweet with a bite, like barbeque. Know now why
the strange thought struck me on the drive down:
If I had been born into the tribe of the Nez Perce
during the 19th century you would have told
Lewis and Clark that your son came into the world
at The Time of the Snow.
Seeing you now at 80 as you see me
out to my Jeep, I know it’s always been
all we could do to hold the line. We can’t help
but dicker before goodbye: Let’s see . . . we say.
The pitched waterfall, the white leaves
of unread directions pattering wind-pressed
against the chain-link fence. Our antics
shore up the base and check the connections
until the pump hums low and the spigot squawks
loose its own clean sheet of water
over molded stones from China.
Come fall, we’ll revel in the raw
slip of silt and moss.
Copyright © 2014 Terry Minchow-Proffitt
Terry Minchow-Proffitt is a retired pastor who lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He was raised in the Mississippi Delta of eastern Arkansas and continues to be inspired by his native land and its people. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Arkansas Review, Big Muddy, Christian Century, decomP magazinE, Deep South Magazine, Desert Call, Freshwater, Hash, OVS Magazine, Oxford American, Pisgah Review, Prick of the Spindle, St. Ann’s Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Wild Violet, Words and Images and The Write Room.