Figures in the Snow
The day that Rachel’s husband went away,
a newly fallen snow lay on the ground.
It mercifully muted every sound
except the neighbor’s children hard at play.
The coming days were going to be tough,
but for Nathaniel’s sake she had to try.
Could she be strong when she would rather cry?
and would what strength she mustered be enough?
The sun sank low, and yet there was enough
of daylight left for her at least to try
to find the place. The driving had been tough—
it’s hard at once to see the ice and cry.
The nagging image wouldn’t go away—
her husband lying still on frozen ground,
unlike the neighbor’s children and their play
at making angels with a joyous sound.
Then from the seat behind her came a sound
that brought her back from where she’d gone away:
Nathaniel was awake and wished to play.
She stopped the car and set him on the ground.
In wonder at this frigid fluff, he tried
to bring it to his mouth, but found it tough
to tolerate the cold. He’d had enough.
He raised his hands to Mommy as he cried.
She took him up and said, “There now. Don’t cry.
The snow is fun to play in, but it’s tough
when hands are freezing cold; so now let’s try
to get back home, for we’ve both had enough
of playing in this white stuff on the ground.”
When they were buckled in, she drove away.
For now, she let her grief drown in the sound
of one small child content to sing and play.
Back home, the mother let Nathaniel play
while she prepared his bath—until a sound
of screaming sent her running. On the ground
below her window, children ran away
from something dark. She understood enough
of what they said—a poor dead squirrel. Their cry
had sent their mothers running too, to try
to comfort them. To watch this scene was tough.
One day: two figures in the snow—how tough
these scenes to bear! (He must not see me cry,
not now!) The water stopped. There was enough
for bath time. “In the tub!” (For his sake try
to smile and let the babe in bathtub play.)
So for a while she reveled in the sound
of joy. When dried off, dressed, and tucked away,
she kissed her boy, then sneaked back to the ground.
And there outside she saw upon the ground
the tickets he had bought to see the play.
They won’t be going, now he’s gone away. . . .
The moonlit night made not a single sound.
Her babe asleep, now she was free to cry.
She wept a while, then said, “It is enough.
The Lord is gracious, though His way is tough;
I will not walk without my God, nor try.”
Then Rachel picked her hymnal up and tried
to sing his favorite hymn: “It is enough
that Jesus died . . . for me.” And then she cried
anew, but this time with a smile. Though tough
to lose her love, she made a joyful sound.
The world’s a stage upon which all must play,
then those who are redeemed, to higher ground
ascend to live with Jesus far away.
How sweet the sound, to sing “I’ll Fly Away”
to “Higher Ground!” And He’s more than enough!
Today I cry; tomorrow I will play—
Through Christ I triumph, though this life is tough!
Copyright © 2021 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved
Welcome to my series, Incremental Poetry, where each week the featured poem will be one line longer than the one I share the week before. I have no idea how long I’ll keep this up, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Thank you for stopping by.
Creator unknown, but first use appeared January 25, 1912, in a poem by A. Tulloch Cull
Sestina variation with 8 lines per verse plus a 4-line envoy, for a total of 68 lines
Isosyllabic: 10 syllables per line
Structure: (note the pattern is different from that of the original ocarina)
Rhyme scheme: alternating envelope and alternate rhyme
Envoy: b/a, b/c, d/a, d/c
Perhaps I’m out of practice, since I seldom get a chance to write these days, but this one was quite difficult, and not very good, I’m afraid. I constantly felt restricted by the end words. Months ago I selected the form as well as the rhyming end words, choosing the eight words at random. If I knew then how they would work together, it was completely lost to me when I finally sat down to write the poem. The theme is dark, but reflective of the uncertainty and brevity of life. The situation was completely made up, but not the faith in Christ. He truly is more than enough for any situation. And while I haven’t lost my husband, I’ve been through a good deal of hardship by the grace of God. I wanted to give glory to Him and share with you the hope that keeps me going.