“Every Two Inches of Snowfall”

I follow the path that my shovel pushes
to the street.  Five times today, with every 
two inches of snowfall because three inches 
of snow can be so heavy and it is best to
stay on top of it.  Two inches, five times, 
is faster than ten inches heaved one shovelful
after one shovelful after another shovelful.

My back is fifty years older than the time
my brother and I trudged the neighborhood
knocking on doors, asking for five dollars
to clear a driveway.  I remember our hushed
talk blown away from our mouths by the wind 
and snow as soon as we tried to say, “I’ll do 
this side.”  “You do the sidewalks.”  Sharing 
five dollars!  And frozen fingers and frozen feet.

Today, I don’t pay myself to clear my drive.
The rewards are plenty: the scrape of steel 
on concrete and a way made from home to the road,
seeing the twigs and sticks from the river birch
brought down by moans from the wind
poking up out of the snow waiting to become
arms for tomorrow’s snowman, and the smell
of Tuscan chicken cooking in the crockpot
each time I come in from the garage.

After dinner, one more time layering
and bending over to tie my boots for
the last two inches of this day.  Then, done,
I go stand in the center of the street 
turning one way and then the other way.
Neighbors with snowblowers rattle
and attack the entire snowfall at once.
Their ease creates a racket and yet
there are snow fountains all around me
from these strange metal beasts,
so unlike stone dolphins spouting water
or fat cherubs pouring streams from vases.

Before going to bed when I hear quiet 
in the neighborhood, I go out one last time
not to shovel but to stand on the front porch
frozen, as if I had been standing in that cold 
for hours, and listen to the sound of hushed 
nothing moving with the snow in the wind, 
making tiny drifts over my slippered feet.

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