Apr/May 2006 Poetry

Scattered Snowflakes

by Erie Chapman

Scattered Snowflakes

comfortable in the steady
warmth of Athens, may never have seen one.

Given the status of science in the first
century B.C.E., their unique geometry
was unknown to Virgil.

Since each is white,
I have to remind myself
that they are, in their way, distinct

as New Yorkers
testing first ice at Rockefeller
Center, or a platoon of campers

searching the woods in fading
light for the best site to pitch
their tents.

At dawn, they populate
the thin sky in such small bands
I have to stare hard through the kitchen

window to verify their presence.
One search party rummages
the brown shingles next door.

A second hesitates amid the branches
of a naked copper beech, several choosing
a single bare arm where they settle, a row

of toga-clad Romans perched to hear
Virgil recite Book VI
of The Aeneid, melting with Octavia & Augustus

when the poet speaks the lines
about the death of their son Marcellus,
yearning, like the dying flakes,

for the river Lethe
to hand them another chance
to play in earth’s air.


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