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American Life in Poetry

Thomas R. Moore, a poet from Maine, has written a fine snow-shoveling poem, and this is a good time of year for it. I especially admire the double entendre of “squaring off.”

Removing the Dross

After snowstorms my father

shoveled the driveway where it lay

open to a sweep of wind across

a neighbor’s field, where the snow

drifted half way down to the paved

road, before snow-blowers, before

pick-ups cruised the streets with

THE BOSS lettered on red plows.

He heated the flat shovel

in the woodstove till the blade

steamed, like Vulcan at his furnace

removing the dross, then rubbed

a hissing candle on the steel

so the snow would slide unchecked

as he made each toss. He marked

blocks with the waxed blade, lifted

and tossed, lifted and tossed again,

squaring off against the snow.

Poem copyright 2010 by Thomas R. Moore from “The Bolt-Cutters” (Fort Hemlock Press, 2010), and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by The Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.