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American Life in Poetry: Snowballs

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By Ted Kooser

Here's a poem by Christopher Todd Matthews that I especially like for the depiction of the little boy who makes more of a snowball than we would have expected was there. This poet lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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Eating Them As He Came

Dark by five, the day gives up and so do I,

stalled at the top of the stairs I forget what for,

adrift in a scrap of dream that's not a dream

exactly but a stupor, unrefined. I go astray

in old routines, I dare myself to reconstruct

the rules of old invented games--that one

of throwing snowballs at the roof, to watch them

shrink as they rolled down, spinning to their pits,

to see the force that made them briefly a thing

so neatly undone. Today an old friend's tiny boy

lobbied me to pitch some snowballs at him. I bowed

to his dense little will. But planned to miss.

As I packed and flung each one to its unpacking,

he hunted down the humble bits and crumbs

of every impact, as they ran from him along

the icy slope, and gathered and carried them

back to me at the top. Eating them as he came.

So that's how you get to the marrow of breakdown.

I forgot. That you could put what's left to your lips.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. Poem copyright 2009 by Christopher Todd Matthews and reprinted from West Branch, No. 65, Fall/Winter 2009, by permission of Christopher Todd Matthews and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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