Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Common Good Poetry Contest, and thank you again to all who entered.
NIGHT ON THE TOWN
White stars have fallen into the trees
of Rice Park where we can see
the cold statue of F. Scott Fitzgerald
wearing his stocking cap of snow.
Nearby, a silver platter of frozen ice
is etched by many blades.
Skaters look like figurines cast against
the granite walls of Landmark Center.
Thousands of years ago people used
animal bones lashed to their feet.
How long since we last let go, pushed off?
$8.00 rents two old pairs of leather skates.
The unsteady boats of our bodies set out
on a wobbly go-round-the-rink.
Muscle memory instructs: relax knees
so legs can shove and stroke to glide.
Soon we will orbit like planets, following
others in bright coats who follow us.
Everything whirls: snowflakes, lights, stars.
We blow blue clouds of breath into the night.
ICE FISHING ON LAKE PHALEN
He sits hunched over on a camp stool
under the arching dome of gray plastic
that nearly disappears in a wilderness
of gray ice. He is creating a quiet place,
a chance to collect himself or think
of nothing at all. There is only the muffled
sound of a winter wind and the slight slap
of water at the hole. He could easily buy
a fish at the market, but it would be only
a fleeting moment, whereas fishing lasts
until he wishes to leave, and the fish
is really not the most important thing.
On greeting an acquaintance at the Ordway, after several years
“I’m a fast-fossilizing fella,” said
the most interesting man at the opera.
Eighty, at least, maybe older, bearded,
ancient and classical and seemingly
permanent, a human Stonehenge,
aged ladies’ man, tall, loose-limbed.
Still half in his heavy charcoal coat,
he rises to embrace me, conducts
stage business with his cane,
gripping its fancy finial.
Back in dark November we started a puzzle: a bright panorama of St. Paul
from the University Club bluff. Tulips meant the thousand days of winter
would someday pass. And it’s true. Piece by piece red petals materialized
in the foreground, while far below ice left the Mississippi loose and
shining. You found the back half of a black lab, and sure enough, it
wagged. And we persisted.
Now in March, how eager we are to be done! But as usual, the sky is the
problem. Luckily we have your puzzle-piece-clipper handy, and with
judicious trimming, careful as carpenters, we’ll reshape fragments of a
troubled sky. Soon one morning, my love, you will press the first day of
spring firmly into place.