I like this line: “Fabulous calls / to duty clank.” There’s such a cold, clanking finality about it. Addicted as we are to heat and electricity, disrupting cold brings duty to a clanking halt. There will always be the child in me who loves hearing on the radio in the morning that school is closed because it snowed six inches last night (that’s all it takes in Cincinnati). You roll over and enjoy the warmth under the covers, and screw it now, let it snow. Those holes shot in the schedule mess up my classes, though; they’re a professional pain. This poem also touches on those moments in the snowy cold—world of black, white and gray, piles of dirty slush and snow in the street, trees with bare branches tangled like morning hair just off the pillow, your breath that was still warm and alive in your body a second ago dies and dissipates in frozen vapors, the snow creaks under your feet like old floorboards—and you think, how can this be the same place where warm rain dripped off of the green foliage last summer? Where you could smell the writhing soil, the breath of bushes, the cut grass of the lawn? It’s not the same place! I can’t be in the same place! And the answer, of course, is that place is a meeting of space and time. The space may be analogous, but time’s seasons have utterly progressed. Henry of course drops a woman into the memory, when he melted her honey, whispered warm things in her ear, and she leaned in his direction. It’s simple and erotic, a lovely image, filled with warmth. It reminds me of the bather at the end of Rilke’s “The Gazelle”:
as when in a green place
a bather in the woods in interrupted…
with the lake’s shine on her averted face.
Of course, in the incarcerating Asiatic cold, it’s part of that same kind of distant summer memory as well. It all adds up to a metaphoric contrast between the poet’s now—sterile and frozen and alone, even if populated by Ivy League duties—and a dreamy summery past filtered through a nostalgic scrim, with all its warmth, and women’s attentions. Flowers and fragrances, honey, and isn't it so beautiful when a woman tucks her long hair behind her ear and she leans it closer to hear your whisper?