The Secret Life of Snowmen



Baby snowmen arrive unseen,
a single baseball-size of snow,
coal dust where their eyes should be.
Gravity urges them to roll
and roll down mountain slopes
like baby turtles to the sea.
You'll see them, sometimes
by the side of the road
where they pause to catch their breath,
a perfectly round lump of snow
you assume was placed by man or by machine.
Instinctively, they roll
along the walls and country fences
towards flat places where the children come,
the front yards, backyards, schoolyards too.
When no one is watching
they fatten in the snow,
massive ball dividing, doubling.
If seen, they'll break and die,
an hourglass spilling sand.
But some will live.
From bulbous body comes the fragile head,
forming mouth and eyes
of blackest coal.
Fully grown they stand
with footprints spreading all around
like silent nannies, fat and white,
in given scarves and hats
they watch our children play
into the shrinking of  the night,
into the growing of the day.
In heat and green the snowman dies,
body into blood into the earth,
scattered now the eyes, the teeth,
like fields that saw the Golden Fleece,
trampled there by passing feet
where children leap and laugh and play.
In spring the children climb
past trees, up hills, up peaks,
to heights ungripped by snow and ice,
young mothers come, young fathers seek,
and from their feet
the coal dust falls and waits.