Saturday, December 20, 2008

in the ice hotel....


Shoveling Snow with Buddah

by Billy Collins

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.

Yes, this is me in the frozen north, outdoors with my winter coat thrown over my nightgown and my bare feet stuffed into my Bean boots, wielding the implements of snow removal! My goal is somehow find daylight and downtown, and search out a Parcheesi game for my niece.

And, if you too are under this multiple-day winter storm, you might find relief in a little colourful needle stashing... Grafton Fibers is having a sale on their gorgeous hand-crafted wooden sock needles - a really good sale. I have couple pairs of these and find them fabulous, great quality, and really perfect for vintage knitting. I can't wait for my new order to arrive!
(disclaimer: no affiliation, I just love this company)

Hope you are all staying warm and crafty!


alce said...

I love that poem. Thanks, and stay warm!

ziarah said...

Your title reminded me of this: - An actual ice hotel!

Have a look at the photos on the right hand side!

Loved the poem - warm and beautiful :)

(deleted and reposted to fix link)