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A Snowstorm

S. Stephanie and Mark DeCarteret provided the Hoot crowd with jolts of energy and insight at their December reading at Café Espresso. Former Portsmouth Poet Laureate, Robert Dunn, contributed these quiet winter words to the evening:

                        A Snowstorm

                        A snowstorm hung on all the afternoon
                        to fill the air and empty out the ground.
                        It hushed the walls that all had grief inside
                        and covered sidewalks that were open wounds,
                        as though this world of ours grew old and tired
                        and changed into another world, not ours.

                        Hope, I said to myself, this is despair
                        that walks us into darkness quietly
                        saying, you have a right to remain silent—
                        but I don’t think I have.  And now the snow
                        has stopped.  What falls is never deep enough
                        to cover all our world.  Hope is
                        and changes nothing but ourselves.  So hope.

                                                                --Robert Dunn

Ushering in the snow is a venerable tradition in American Poetry.  Emerson has “all the trumpets of the sky” welcome his “fierce artificer,” while Whittier’s farmer shouts to his joyful sons:  “Boys, a path!”   Robert Dunn has a quieter approach.  His snow hushes our griefs and covers our wounds, aging everything, transfiguring the world.  But it proves not the happy event that Whittier describes—not  hope but despair is what its silencing suggests.  Yet the poet will not—cannot—go silent into that bleak night.   We are reminded that “What falls” can never cover everything—only hope is deep enough for that.  But hope is active, not passive.  It doesn’t descend like snow but rises out of our hearts.  Despite what befalls us.  Like poetry, hope accumulates, deepens as we hearken to it, affords each one of us a way to dig out of the darkest depths.  “So hope.”                                                                                                -- JP

“A Snowstorm” by Robert Dunn, Portsmouth Poet Laureate 1999-2001.  Robert is the author of several works, including I Hear America Singing from Oyster River Press and quo, Musa, tendis? published by Peter Randall.  You can read his Ocean Poem on a plaque above the Piscataqua at the end of Daniel Street.  He lives, walks, reads, writes and reflects in Portsmouth, “one of the fine places in the world.”                         



Please note: the Poetry Hoot is on the first Wednesday of every month at Cafe Espresso in the 800 Plaza, Portsmouth, NH.   Note: Poems submitted to this column should not exceed nineteen lines.