Defense Mechanism

I was catching up with my mom on the phone today and she asked me what the original version of this poem meant. I told her, and then she remarked how she’s the type of person who likes explanation with her poetry. After thinking about what she said, I realized I’m the same way. I hate poems that are all convoluded pretentious metaphor. Sometimes I just want to know what’s happening. That’s why it helps to read poetry in school so much. Alongside a professor and classmates, you can tease out meaning more easily. So although some may say it defeats the purpose of poetry (writing left for the reader’s interpretation and all that), I’ll give you a clue as to what I’m writing about here.

I’ve been at school in Wisconsin since late August (that’s about 3.5 months) and I’m ready to go home. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life here, but it’s time to go back. I don’t know when I originally wrote this poem, but in gong through my files, the words rang true for me again, so I decided to pull it out of the folder and revisit it. I also think the meaning of a poem can change depending on who you are and where you are when you’re reading it. That said, for me now, this poem is about remembering a place (here I was thinking of my home state, New Hampshire woods), and getting caught the percieved or real beauty of that memory. The second piece retells the jolt back to reality that comes after dwelling too much in memory. There is the minute shock, the discomfort, but still, the gravity pulling me back to the place where I can’t go just yet.

Yes, no snow in New Hampshire yet, but there will be soon!
Yes, no snow in New Hampshire yet, but there will be soon!


The dirt road covered in snow

fresh from the sky winds

alongside a gray river thick with ice,

Fissures form delicate dark spider webs across the surface

and the biting wind covers a scattering of rabbit tracks

crossing the icey artery.


I’m there, walking between

two pine boughs bent low to the ground

by the weight of the snowfall.

My face is numb and I move forward

I love the stark crunch of my boots on frozen ground,

the white character of my vision.


My senses correct the memory’s deviance.

I reel back, hurtling to here,

now, myself in this place

where there is no snow

and the wind is too warm.

The sky does not give the trees

wintry crystal blankets

and I can’t even hear the echo

of my own footsteps.


So please, do not mention that place,

because although my mind is strong,

I cannot defy the force of gravity

that has hold of my bones.


Gravity, Merriam Webster says,

is “the force that attracts the body

toward the center,”

but rules of distance,

logistics, and measurable miles

won’t let me

go back to the center

just yet.


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