Nine below again this morning. The weather is displaying an utter lack of imagination. I’ve no idea what the wind chill is, but wind chill temperatures don’t count anyway. That’s just make believe stuff. Trust me, if it’s windy the air outside is still the same temperature, it’s just mother nature holding you down and giving you a wet willy with it. Unpleasant in a whole ‘nother way.

We can complain about this cold snap all we want, but we have been blessed with some gorgeous, crystal clear sunny days during it. That is one thing I have always appreciated about winter in Minnesota. When it gets cold like this the clouds freeze, and fall crashing to the ground, leaving nothing between us and the bright yellow Popsicle we call the sun. Sit inside next to a heater, by a window and you can be lulled into thinking it is warm outside. After growing up in the perma-gloom of Western New York in the winter time, I will never take the sunshine for granted. I remember one particularly depressing winter at Clarkson when I counted 14 straight days without seeing the sun. I would have drown myself in the river if I’d have been able to chisel a hole in the ice big enough to fit through.

You know when I take to writing about the weather that I am having a tough time writing. I blame it on the cold. The sub zero temperatures have frozen up the memory salvaging equipment. It’ll take a few days to thaw out the lines, and re-charge the battery before I can resume my work recovering memories from the deep, dark ocean of time. Thanks for your patience. In the mean time, here’s a poem to bore you to tears keep you entertained

Photo by Howard R. Hollem - for the Office of War Information 1942 - Library of Congress

Coming Close by Philip Levine

Take this quiet woman, she has been
standing before a polishing wheel
for over three hours, and she lacks
twenty minutes before she can take
a lunch break. Is she a woman?
Consider the arms as they press
the long brass tube against the buffer,
they are striated along the triceps,
the three heads of which clearly show.
Consider the fine dusting of dark down
above the upper lip, and the beads
of sweat that run from under the red
kerchief across the brow and are wiped
away with a blackening wrist band
in one odd motion a child might make
to say No! No! You must come closer
to find out, you must hang your tie
and jacket in one of the lockers
in favor of a black smock, you must
be prepared to spend shift after shift
hauling off the metal trays of stock,
bowing first, knees bent for a purchase,
then lifting with a gasp, the first word
of tenderness between the two of you,
then you must bring new trays of dull
unpolished tubes. You must feed her,
as they say in the language of the place.
Make no mistake, the place has a language,
and if by some luck the power were cut,
the wheel slowed to a stop so that you
suddenly saw it was not a solid object
but so many separate bristles forming
in motion a perfect circle, she would turn
to you and say, “Why?” Not the old why
of why must I spend five nights a week?
Just, “Why?” Even if by some magic
you knew, you wouldn’t dare speak
for fear of her laughter, which now
you have anyway as she places the five
tapering fingers of her filthy hand
on the arm of your white shirt to mark
you for your own, now and forever.


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