The Roof god Wonders

Today’s post is inspired by Corinne’s recent meditation on winter’s first shoveling following hard on fall’s last raking. In her post, Corinne invoked Thoreau’s “inspector of winter,” and that got me thinking about the sorts of inspections winter encourages. Surely one is of what lies overhead. Here then, is one inspector’s report. What inspections must you make to satisfy this season?


Shoveling the Sky

The sun inclines toward evening and
what wind there was lies down, the way
deer yard up to winter sleep in the
protective pines. From the ladder’s top rung
I shovel a way onto the roof and step

cautiously into its field of snow its broad
expanse pitched slightly (sun-state design)
to the southwest’s rumor of spring
and filtered sun. Here is settled sky,
the layerings and leavings of a dozen storms,

each weighing on its forebears, winter’s journal,
finally ice. With my shovel I am precise, cutting geometries – squares, rectangles, and everyone’s
favorite, the trapezoid, its four lines happily
askew in the irregular world. Even with my

back-saver shovel, its shaft bent so
the blade levels for easy lifting,
I have to divide each sector into three passes,
ten pounds that I can heft and hurl 500 times
and the blocks of snow fly with the direct

intelligence of stone; they thud repeatedly
adding to the haystack corpus of old sky
that rises now near roof level. Each block
a million flakes sliding from the slick
shovel a brief comet trailing its tail

of spray arcing over the gutter –
gone, already the next chopped free of the fallen
sky; I am the roof-god coiled, his shovel beginning
its rotary swing – who would have thought
the sky could weigh so much?

What keeps it aloft?

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