Monday, May 24, 2010

Exaggerate! 1st Place in Writing

We are proud to present the Poem that won 1st place in the writing portion "Exaggerate!" our current exhibition of Art & Tall Tales that will run until June 6.

by Rodney Aldrich
Illustrations by his grandson Ronan

I leaned on my shovel
the driveway only half done.
Flake after flake,
their spiked points
clawing the air,
divided the space
into vertical columns
of emptiness.
I imagined the surreal landscape
growing higher in the next hours
with muffled outlines
replacing objects.
Sometimes the snowflakes
were icy pinpoints.
Sometimes hairy disks
speeding straight down.
Sometimes huge amalgamated blobs.
Enough white fluff accumulated
to become a local phenomenon.
The hometown forecaster smiled at a
still shot of great walls of white
along our road.
Three days later,
we had to cut shelves
at shoulder height
to throw the bottom snow upon.
March came and went.
We switched to tunnels
and parked half a mile away.
The snow was heavy
and my back ached
from the hourly struggles.
The TV glow became handy in the den

with the outdoor light blocked by drifts.
The forecaster’s brow was furrowed
but her gestures were still grand.
By late April,
we were unprecedented in the lower 48.
I was interviewed
by CNN.
With the warm air sweeping in
we got our deep canyons back
when the tunnel tops collapsing.
But the snow kept falling.
By May the local forecaster
was shaking her head
with a nervous smile
through the entire report.
The flakes were tiny dots by day

and grainy cousins of sleet by night,
but the snow kept falling.
By late May,
the retreating melt revealed
our house was the obvious epicenter.
In June the researchers and tourists
started to arrive.
One side of the front yard had
meteorology equipment.
The other had
families building snowmen,
making angels,
and staging snow fights
for the ever-present video cams.
On the summer solstice,
we were declared
a commercial flight hazard,
but the little planes

and choppers loved to zoom
into and above
the permanent gray cloud.
By July,
the local forecaster
had a permanent marker asterisk over
our house
upon her map.
The local county fair
came and loaded a dump-truck
to make weird “real” sno-cones
for the masses on the midway.
So here I sit in August,
in the motel
where it seems we live now,
watching the scientists on NPR
spouting big words
about jet-stream and global warming
that boil down to
they don’t know.
I peel my sticky thighs
off the cheap vinyl chair
and go over to the door
with all its metal security appointments.
Going outside to the narrow patio
to gaze across the valley
at the gray cloud,
at the white spot below
and wonder
when will it ever stop?

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