Photo of My Father in a Snowbound Train (audio only)
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Propping his tripod, Hine remembers
Childhood snowfall in Wisconsin,
Flakes careening in prairie wind,
A red sleigh skimming a frozen lake,
Curlicued breath-mist of two dappled drays.
But this is a blizzard of cotton dust
From the looms & thirty thousand spindles,
Gauze-air, whirlwind of innumerable floaters.
The thermometer reads one hundred & three.
—author of the earliest known signature
That arrow & life were homonyms. That his name
Predates all others, incised sunbaked on a slab
Of Eupratian clay. Stylus a broken reed, though it
Carries somehow the bedazzled opalescent mojo
Of transfiguration. The hand which holds it edges right
& reaching the margin circles back, right to left
On the Forty-Ninth Birthday of "The Day Lady Died"
It is 3:00 in the torpid New South, three days past Bastille Day & yes this is the form you fashioned, isn't it? Exact & fast & haunted as the opening chords of "Sweet Jane" (Mott the Hoople version), which pulses from the minivan as I drive from shrink to soccer camp, shirtpocket staining my new Rx with sweat, the bank thermometer flashing 103, the day's new record. We still use Fahrenheit, Frank (if I may call you Frank).