Winter Archaeology

A fresh layer of snow certainly improves the look of things.
Hiding the truth, it papers over the yesterday history
of streets and sidewalks and yards —
dog drippings and droppings, dirty boot prints, old parking tickets,
carry-out leftovers distributed by squirrels, gray curbside slush.

This magical “now you see it, now you don’t” brings a quiet beauty,
preserving, along with the requisite garbage,
colorful gloves and mittens, a bright red scarf, a single earring,
a frozen green tennis ball, all lost and buried the day before.
But, unlike ancient shells and shards, this dig, this winter’s kitchen midden
lies undiscovered for only a second in time,
just until slight warming and faint sunshine start the melting
that will release its captive neighborhood secrets,
except, of course, for the unkeepable,
like the tracks of winter animals who passed along this way,
or the tears of a little boy who got hurt
roughhousing in the snow with his friends.

Susan Gundlach lives in Evanston, Illinois, and has been teaching and writing forever. She is especially involved in making handmade books that integrate text and art. Her poems have appeared most recently in A Light Breakfast, Dark Matter, A Midnight Snack, Lingerpost and in the walkway of the Evanston Public Library—etched in stone, or cement, actually. Her work can also be seen in The Best of Vine Leaves 2012, and some children’s poems are forthcoming in Cricket magazine.