Kevin Murphy

Retired Professor, Literatures in English

Title

In this dream a woman walks through the snow;
her hair is the color of straw, and her gray eyes
make me think she is Nordic, some beautiful passerby
on a street in Oslo or Copenhagen, cities I've never seen.

The snow's been falling softly all afternoon,
and now carpets the streets and walkways
with a thick coat of unblemished white.
In the late afternoon or early evening light
the snow glows a dull phosphorescent gray.

Her children are beside her, two small boys,
trying to maneuver the snow-filled sidewalk.
She coaxes them on, brushing the flakes
of snow from their hair and shoulders,
flicking her delicate wrists to clear the air.

Leaning over the boys, she shows them how,
by gliding their shoes, first one,
then the other, first one, then the other,
slowly over the tiny inch-high drifts,
they can walk not through, but on the snow.

As a cadence to guide and time
their little feet, she says again and again:
life is so rich, life is so rich, life is so rich.

How could I know that this was not
what might have been, but what would be,
that the years to come would be a journey north,
a long walk toward those early evening drifts?

Repeating the woman's cadence over and over,
I sink deeper into a lightless, wordless sleep,
aware now only of a thirst for snow.