James Longenbach’s spare poem about a bygone boyhood season gets atmospheric, thanks to video artist Deb Kirkeeide’s soft-edged, overlapping watercolors.



Snow that covers us from above,
Cover us more deeply.
Whiten the city with its houses and churches,
The red house and the yellow house,
The port with its ships.

Cover the Garden House
Where we could never get warm.
There was a fireplace so we learned to build fires.
We had a baby so we walked in the rain.

Cover the fields, cover the trees,
The river beneath us prodding its black stones,
The suffering of which I wasn’t aware.

Cover the house where I grew up in New Jersey,
The basement where I learned how to paint,
To hammer a nail, to cut a silk screen.

The harpsichord I built,
The piano I played,
The attic where I stood alone in the cold
Listening for something, I didn’t know what.

I hid a book in the eaves,
I couldn’t find it when we moved.

Snow that covers us from above,
Cover us more deeply.
Cover the rooftops,
Cover the sea.

James Longenbach


This poem first appeared in Salmagundi and was reprinted in Best American Poetry 2011. The poem appears in Longenbach’s collection The Iron Key, published in 2010 by W. W. Norton. Poem copyright 2011 James Longenbach, all rights reserved, used by permission of the author.

Read about James Longenbach.

See more work from video artist Deb Kirkeeide.

This motionpoem is presented in collaboration with Best American Poetry 2011 (Scribner), with thanks to David Lehman, series editor.


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