Sleet

Alan Shapiro

 
What was it like before the doctor got there?
Till then, we were in the back seat of the warm
dark bubble of the old Buick. We were where
we'd never not been, no matter where we were.
And when the doctor got there?
Everything outside was in a rage of wind and sleet,
we were children, brothers, safe in the back seat,
for once not fighting, just listening, watching the storm.
Weren't you afraid that something bad might happen?
Our father held the wheel with just two fingers
even though the car skidded and fishtailed
and the chains clanged raggedly over ice and asphalt.
Weren't you afraid at all?
Dad sang for someone to fly him to the moon,
to let him play among the stars, while Mom
held up the lighter to another Marlboro.
But when the doctor started speaking. . .
The tip of the Marlboro was a bright red star.
Her lips pursed and she released a ring of Saturn,
which dissolved as we caught at it, as my dad sang Mars.
When you realized what the doctor was saying. . .
They were closer to the storm in the front seat.
The high beams, weak as steam against the walled swirling,
only illuminated what we couldn't see.
When he described it, the tumor in the brain and what it meant. . .
See, we were children. Then we weren't. Or my brother wasn't.
He was driving now, he gripped the steering wheel
with both hands and stared hard at the panicked wipers.
What did you feel?
Just sleet, the slick road, the car going way too fast,
no brother beside me in the back seat, no singing father,
no mother, no ring of Saturn to catch at as it floats.
 
Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © 2002 by Alan Shapiro. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Just by Alan Shapiro
after the downpour, in the early evening
The Haunting by Alan Shapiro
It may not be the ghostly ballet
Vantage by Alan Shapiro
From where I watch, there are no highest leaves,


Further Reading

Poems about Storms
A Crosstown Breeze
by Henry Taylor
Bermudas
by Andrew Marvell
History of Hurricanes
by Teresa Cader
Low Barometer
by Robert Bridges
Now Winter Nights Enlarge
by Thomas Campion
Of Politics, & Art
by Norman Dubie
Radar Data #12
by Lytton Smith
Stones in the Air
by Anna Journey
Storm Ending
by Jean Toomer
The Day Duke Raised: May 24th, 1974
by Quincy Troupe
The Snow Storm
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Storm
by Theodore Roethke
White Water
by John Montague
Poems About Weather
(Soma)tic 5: Storm SOAKED Bread
by CAConrad
Becoming Weather, 21
by Chris Martin
Snow-Bound [The sun that brief December day]
by John Greenleaf Whittier
The Book of a Thousand Eyes [Rain, queen]
by Lyn Hejinian
A Line-storm Song
by Robert Frost
A Winter Without Snow
by J. D. McClatchy
An Octave Above Thunder
by Carol Muske-Dukes
Aubade: Some Peaches, After Storm
by Carl Phillips
Dispatches from Devereux Slough
by Mark Jarman
Even the Rain
by Agha Shahid Ali
Flood
by Eliza Griswold
Flood
by Miyazawa Kenji
Great Sleeps I Have Known
by Robin Becker
History of Hurricanes
by Teresa Cader
Identity Crisis
by F. D. Reeve
In April
by James Hearst
Into Bad Weather Bounding
by Bin Ramke
It Was Raining In Delft
by Peter Gizzi
L’Avenir est Quelque Chose
by Dobby Gibson
November
by William Cullen Bryant
Now Winter Nights Enlarge
by Thomas Campion
Ode to the West Wind
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Passage I
by Maureen N. McLane
Problems with Hurricanes
by Victor Hernández Cruz
Purism
by Vona Groarke
Radar Data #12
by Lytton Smith
Rain
by Claribel Alegría
Shells
by Elaine Terranova
Sitting Outside
by W. D. Snodgrass
Snow
by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Clouded Morning
by Jones Very
The Hurricane
by William Carlos Williams
The Snow Storm
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Storm
by Theodore Roethke
The Woman and the Flame
by Aimé Césaire
Today A Rainstorm Caught Me
by Matt Hart
Who Has Seen the Wind?
by Christina Rossetti