Signed Self-portrait: February by Ralph Culver

Signed Self-portrait: February

Knee-deep amid the clambering snows, the old
broom at parade rest in my grip, ice-bound,
I remark with odd admiration the gray rampart
the city plow blade grades across the mouth
of my driveway. From the porch roof by an empty
suet cage, a downy woodpecker goads me
with a glance. Well, he can wait a moment,
and so can my shovel, wherever it may be
under all this whiteness. With these bristles
seasons past have frayed and fretted to a bevel,
the broomstick vertical, I brush the only
Chinese ideogram I know—increasing joy
into the surface of the snow beside the roses
patiently waiting in their burlap robes.

by Ralph Culver

Editor’s Note: Deep into a September heatwave, the cool snow of this poem reminds me that every season has its moment where patience is necessary. I might as well scratch increasing joy into the dust on the sidewalk today, and practice waiting, too.

Photo courtesy of Ralph Culver and Chickadee Chaps and Broads.

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