The Blizzard by Phillis Levin
Now that the worst is over, they predict
Something messy and difficult, though not
Life-threatening. Clearly we needed
To stock up on water and candles, making
Tureens of soup and things that keep
When electricity fails and phone lines fall.
Igloos rise on air conditioners, gargoyles
Fly and icicles shatter. Frozen runways,
Lines in markets, and paralyzed avenues
Verify every fear. But there is warmth
In this sudden desire to sleep,
To surrender to our common condition
With joy, watching hours of news
Devoted to weather. People finally stop
To talk to each other—the neighbors
We didn’t know were always here.
Today they are ready for business,
Armed with a new vocabulary,
Casting their saga in phrases as severe
As last night’s snow: damage assessment,
Evacuation, emergency management,
The shift of the wind matters again,
And we are so simple, so happy to hear
The scrape of a shovel next door.
“The Blizzard” by Phillis Levin from Mercury. © Penguin, 2001. Reprinted with permission.