Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Radio Tells Us It's Snowing in Montauk

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Radio Tells Us It's Snowing in Montauk

Article excerpt

It's snowing in Montauk this morning-or so

the radio tells us-not so far as the crow

flies from where Manhattan rises on its darkness

of rock, but far in other ways: a sandy limb

of land stretching east in its fierce lace of surf

and cold circuit of sea-round stones seeming

to say go farther than I can take you-distances

are what we have imagination for.

Lying in bed in the snowless city, the sleepless

night behind, the unseen garbage trucks braking and yawning

below, the radio on low, I remember standing

on that beach long ago. There was snow then, too, soft

white glims falling out of the white sky

lining everything with light: the dead brown thickets,

the sparse and leaning pines, the motels sleeping

with their storm shutters up, their neon unplugged until spring

It took a long time to notice the white smoke

way out on the water, fitful puffs quickly torn

across the horizon by the wind. Somewhere out

there a ship was burning-burning on the ocean

in the snow! Whom could we have told in that empty

world wrapped in the slow motion of winter?

But in the end it didn't matter because it turned out

to be whales-although we could only see their spouts. …

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