To the Boy Who Burned a Snowman
I thought of you again this morning
after a spring snowfall; of how, one
after another, wooden matches
—your mother’s stove lighters?—
flared as you came up the road
long after dark so many years ago,
a boy I’d never seen before.I watched from an upstairs window:
you set the head against your forefinger,
the other end against your thumb,
and with a dip of the shoulder
like a submarine pitcher, a fireman,
pinwheeled a burst off the macadam.No design but play, yet somehow
one with distance landed beside
the snowman I fashioned that morning—
an impulse from the crystalline yard,
my children grown and gone.The hound’s-tooth coat, its frayed hem
trailing on the snow, its worth
fallen far below Goodwill, caught fire
that climbed to the woolen muffler
mice had nested in. And last the Tinkertoy
arms outstretched to you. You didn’tsee me, nor did I tap a threatening
gesture on the pane. A full moon,
and so of all the proud men
created from that out-of-season snow
he was his own light. You tooka step back as if to run, but then
slowly approached. You stood facing him
as though something—a secret?—
passed between snowman and boy.You never reappeared, who started him
on his way home. He’d had his time.
I watched him pass into the spring grass,
where his absence would abound.
Copyright © 2018 by Thomas Reiter
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
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