When I First Saw Snow
Bing Crosby was singing “White Christmas”
on the radio, we were staying at my aunt’s house
waiting for papers, my father was looking for a job.
We had trimmed the tree the night before,
sap had run on my fingers and for the first time
I was smelling pine wherever I went.
Anais, my cousin, was upstairs in her room
listening to Danny and the Juniors.
Haigo was playing Monopoly with Lucy, his sister,
Buzzy, the boy next door, had eyes for her
and there was a rattle of dice, a shuffling
of Boardwalk, Park Place, Marvin Gardens.
There were red bows on the Christmas tree.
It had snowed all night.
My boot buckles were clinking like small bells
as I thumped to the door and out
onto the grey planks of the porch dusted with snow.
The world was immaculate, new,
even the trees had changed color,
and when I touched the snow on the railing
I didn’t know what I had touched, ice or fire.
I heard, ”I’m dreaming …”
I heard, “At the hop, hop, hop … oh, baby.”
I heard “B & 0” and the train in my imagination
was whistling through the great plains.
And I was stepping off,
I was falling deeply into America.