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Across the eerie silence of the snowstorm—
no cars going by, people settled in
for the night—comes a rending sound like a shot
then a clatter that smacks of the ground
as if among these fraying clumps of flakes
a larger piece of sky had tumbled down.
The heavy snow has split the oak out front,
its right branch lodges in a parked car’s roof
and splays across the windshield and the hood.
What’s left lists as if a strong wind bent
and held it down. Nearby, another burst
or crack and then a crash, and again and again,
as if a hand worked steadily to thin the street,
tree after tree after tree, of its company.
A body only takes so much, of course,
before it goes to gravity. But so many
and all at once? At intervals the air
trembles as the next gives up, gives it up—
what, in limbs or heartwood, survival costs—
until street, cars, walks, and gardens groan
with twisted branches, torn trunks as if war
of some unthinkable kind had fingered trees
and trees alone. And though the mind consoles
with the prospect of new growth, tonight snow,
culprit snow, everywhere throws curves
as it mounts in immaculate drifts and depressions,
while the survivors stand, gashed and sad, in the streetlight,
and some will not survive this hurt at all.
Copyright 1996 Sandy Solomon. First published in Pears, Lake, Sun by University of Pittsburgh Press. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.