~ for Ed
After he died, I shoveled snow at night in the black
bracing cold when the sky was bright with stars.
My gloved hands pushed and lifted and turned
the thick wooden handle as the full moon emerged
slowly from behind the mountains.
I shoveled in the still-coming snow to try to return things
— impossibly — to the way they had been and I worked
to ignore what I knew: everything we clear will be covered.
I tossed the snow up into the air for the dog to bite
because her joy was insatiable, and the moonlight
made scatter-shadows that would kick out and fade.
The neighbor was trying to go somewhere.
The car tires spun peacock plumes of snow
before catching tread and the engine’s revving
cracked the silence, but was swallowed into echo
as the car’s back-end swung out in thick slaloms onto the road.
I stood still in the cold to feel the heat in my coat,
to feel the snow’s small dapples on my hot neck —
to feel my breath heavy and alive with work
and to pray again my prayer to the past:
Please, I asked the sky and the thin, cold air —
please let his death have been like this —
like thick snow falling — the kind that whispers
shh, quiet now. The kind that catches your breath,
that startles you up out of yourself with its beauty.
©2018 by Amy Ratto Parks
Amy Ratto Parks’ poetry, fiction, and essays appear in literary, popular, and academic journals. She teaches at the University of Montana.