Poem of the Week | December 02, 2013

This week we’re featuring a new poem by Bern Mulvey. Mulvey’s second book, Deep Snow Country, won the 2013 Field Poetry Prize. He has published extensively in English and Japanese, including poems in Poetry, Agni, Field, Beloit Poetry Journal, Michigan Quarterly Review, Cimarron Review, Passages North, The Laurel Review, Snake Nation Review and Poetry East. His first book, The Fat Sheep Everyone Wants, won the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize and was published in 2008. He also has two award winning poetry chapbooks: Character Readings (Copperdome/Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2012) and The Window Tribe (White Eagle Coffee Store Press, 2005). He lives in Iwate, Japan.
Author’s note:

Many of the poems in my current book deal with the challenges of living through the devastating earthquake/tsunami/reactor meltdown that struck northeastern Japan in 2011. (I live and work near what was the quake epicenter.) The book’s title, though, comes from the official government designation for this region: gousetsu chitai, or “the region of deep snows.” Typically, we’ll get our first significant snowfall here in early October…and the last in late April. Temperatures can also drop into the single digits even in March. This harsh climate, combined with the comparative isolation of the region, contributed both to the loss of life during the disaster and to the suffering afterward.
On the other hand, the six months without snow here are absolutely glorious! Everybody tries to stay outside as much as possible. And then, just when you relax and begin to believe winter impossible, on a day early in each October, suddenly the wind changes…and all the pleasantness stops.



Something fishy
wake with the damn dog’s
tongue up my nose
too early morning
but she’s right
the clawed wind
which carries the first storms
blizzard incoming
deep snow country
drifts mongrel eye-high through March.
Time for a last walk
only us about
hoarfrost and quiet
air a pear just cut
maidenhair, maple and cherry
each tree its scent
its own sure theme of color
lemon, raspberry, peach and red wine
copsy roof
the ground padded
here with maroon leaves like five-point stars
there ocher and blunt-toed
a duck’s webbed feet.
Now the dog hurries
that sixth sense they have of endings
the road lamplit
all horizons
a smoke spreading the purest black.