by Job Conger
Dawn in winter takes too long
as the kinetic energy from gravity-drawn snow
distracts my storm-tossed mind’s meandering
At four a.m. I gaze south into my backyard
that’s bathed in what the security light next door reflects as fog,
but in reality is nothing more than water frozen hard
descending home to terra firma.
On St. Louis radio, received
as though reassurance from a distant star,
they talk about the rapidly growing layer of flakes as though
they’re updating a modern apocalypse in progress.
As the descending spectral points of light
remind me me I have my eyes open,
I am anxious for the new day and the stroke of seven’s
rhapsody of past-behind and promise-arrived.
There are no promises
in the consuming dreariness of five a.m.;
only the gravity-drawn return of second thoughts and the quest
for solutions from the ghost of the beneficent Creator.
Six a.m. drifts into the time zone
as energies suggested in the dancing, descending fog
precipitate a burst of hope to break the jam of frozen antipathies
and to build ice castles of resolution for better-quenched tomorrows.
Come the new day
the coat of counterfeit pretense
that shone so brightly in the blaze of summer
will hang in solitude, and I shall don reality.
But as for now, I am
mostly tired from the weight of
countless fallen flakes and flukes of hate and wait for
better skies that I may never see.
Dawn comes late in winter,
but it comes on time at 7:02 a.m.
Now the neutral hues of snow merge
with the stoic, unfeeling, gray of sky.
And now, wrapped in the imposing solitude of
great expectations made pointless in winter weariness,
I lay me down
written 2:20 pm, Sunday, January 19, 1997
An earlier version of this poem was published in my second book of my poems, Wit’s End, my only book which has a deeper title than any point made between the covers. I consider successful poems the end — the goal, the raison detre — of wit when wit is engaged during the creation of poems. I believe “wit” produces originality, even though “originality” is often attributed to a perspective or phrase with has existed for centuries, written by someone else, who didn’t leave a name, whom you didn’t know existed when you wrote the same thing or part of the same thing yourself. And that’s okay. I don’t write for the ages; I write for the time. I cobbled this poem together on after sitting awake all night watching the snow from my office in the back of the house as described, after deciding I wanted to stay awake through dawn, watching the snow and listening to KMOX radio. During the time that transpired in the poem and before, I also read some. A lot of the time, I just gazed out the window and occasionally wrote notes, observations, things I supposed would be important to a poem I knew I would try to write about the experience. After sleeping about five hours, I rose from bed, poured some coffee and cobbled.
I’ve decided I’ll never reprint Wit’s End because I’m a better poet now than I was then, and some will necessarily have to never see a page again. This one will, I think, as revised, a snapshot souvenir from of a long night bathed in the glow of a computer monitor while watching the snow come down in Springfield, Illinois.
Live long . . . . . and proper.