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Winter Preparations

by Lionel E. Deimel


“Snow,” the paper said.

Perhaps I’d best go back to bed,

Though shouldn’t I prepare?


Food may be in short supply,

A problem I must rectify

If the pantry’s really bare.


Soap and toilet tissue:

These could raise a sticky issue

If they run out in a storm.


Candles—should I buy a few?

If lights go out, what shall I do

If I cannot find my way about?


Salt I haven’t got;

It slips my mind when weather’s hot

To buy a bag or two.


Shovel—do I have one for the snow?

The answer probably is “no”—

The old one broke last year.


Snowflakes! Has the snow begun?

I haven’t got my shopping done!

I’d best go back to bed.


Need I say that this poem was inspired by a weather forecast? The first line was written first, and the first verse became a model for the others. I began writing the poem on December 13, 2005, but not until December 21 did I finish. Composition was hard going because I wanted the structure of the poem to be a unifying element. Trying to make the verses parallel one another, however, often seemed to work against idiomatic expression. The idea for the last verse came to me sometime in the middle of the writing process, as I generated potential verses in somewhat random order.

As is often the case, when my writers’ group read this poem, the only technical comment made criticized the one line that had made me uncomfortable. Originally, the first verse was

“Snow,” the paper said.

I want to go right back to bed,

But shouldn’t I prepare?

I was asked if I could “tighten” the second line, which can be read in a proper rhythm, but not idiomatically. I tried several fixes, finally settling on the one shown above. My edit also substituted “though” for “but” in line three, although this change seems less essential. I had liked the way that the idea of going back to bed (in the first and last verses) framed the poem. With the changes to verse one (done on January 12, 2006), the exact words (“I’d best go back to bed”), not simply the same idea, appear in both places, a happy coincidence I recognized only after making the change.

— LED, 1/12/2006

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