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Thursday, March 26, 2015


by Peter Krass

The New York City blizzard of 1947 dropped 26.4 inches of snow in Central Park over two days (December 26-27). As moisture in the Gulf Stream fed the storm's energy, the City was paralyzed when the blizzard barreled its way through, stranding cars and buses in the streets, halting subway service, and claiming 77 lives. —Image Source: New York Public Library via New York City OEM.

That was the winter when snow fell three times
in one week, twelve times in one month,
fell even on the first day of spring
and no one mentioned it
or else looked surprised when it was mentioned,
as if eccentric blizzards, deep endless freezes
were perfectly normal
and no cause for worry.

That was the winter when a bicycle was buried
in a snowbank, only its handlebars
visible, poking out from the top
of a frozen mound
like a pair of chromed periscopes
hunting for clues.

That was the winter said to be the coldest
in years, in decades,
the snow freezing on sidewalks and streets,
then melting in rare rays of sunlight,
then freezing again,
then melting again and freezing yet again,
changing color, too, from pristine white
to urban grey, and then
to a disgusting speckled black
until the snow became something else, something
not-quite-snow, not-quite-ice,
but what, no one had a word for yet.

That was the winter lonely-hearted men
relied on porn and their exhausted imaginations,
for all outdoor female forms were bound and concealed
in boots, hats, scarves, shapeless coats, fleece vests, bulky
sweaters, lined gloves, even childish mittens,
and beneath it all, long underwear, turtleneck collars
and sad, thick grey wool socks.

That was the winter when walking to the store
was like walking on the moon,
the ground grey, frozen and crunching,
the air muffled, disconcertingly still,
when even a Friday night was strangely deserted,
neither a car nor a pedestrian on the move,
as if an entire city had been immobilized,
which in a way it had.

That was the winter so cold, no one dared speak
of global warming,
though some saw the weather
as a kind of warning
and they worried, worried
a great deal.
And now, decades later,
we who have known so much more,
so much worse, think back on that winter,
those long-ago worries,
and we smile.
Sadly, to be sure.
But still, we smile.

Peter Krass is a freelance writer and editor, and a creative-writing teacher at The Writers Studio, both in New York and online. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Commonline Journal, The New Verse News, and elsewhere, and his poem "All Dressed in Green" recently received a Pushcart Prize special mention.