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SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

Pianos of Snow

by William Doreski

Pianos of snow play softly
in the woods. I know their tunes:
plush notes crowning moments

I sometimes forget I’ve forgotten.
Deer slip among leafless trees
with hunger big as headlights.

Wild turkeys flock in dozens,
scouring claw-tracks for the world
to follow. The pianos tinkle

without human volition as if
they sported perforated rolls
of pre-played harmonies wound up

to sound through the gravest storm.
But the pianos themselves are snow,
banked to brace their melodies

against interventions of rain
or thaw. They’ll play through April,
then flush downstream like Orpheus

singing beheaded out to sea.
Now, though, in January cold,
the upholstered notes ring clear

enough to lure me to the forest
in my bulky pine-colored parka.
With tall boots I impact a trail

to the frozen beaver pond where
wind across the ice has drifted
several snow-pianos that play

the same bleak song over and over—
one of Schubert’s about a child
lost forever in wind and storm.

No one hears but me. The blue light
fades into muddled horizons.
Scent of new snow quickens me 

so I get home just before dark.
But the music lingers to claim me
for the wilderness: pianos

of snow bulking like tombstones
in silence too dense for even
the dullest minds to violate.


SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

William Doreski’s

work appears in various print and e-journals, including Ars Interpres, Atlanta Review, Cimarron Review, Colorado Review, Free Inquiry, Harvard Review, Notre Dame Review, Salzburg Review, Swamproot, and Yale Review. His books include City of Palms (poems; AA Publications, 2012), My Shadow Instead of Myself (Pygmy Forest Press, 2004), Sacra Via (Tatlock Publications, 2005), The Suburbs of Atlantis (chapbook; Cedar Hill Publishing, 2016), and Waiting for the Angel (poems; Pygmy Forest Press, 2009). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors, and was awarded the Aesthetic Poetry Prize in 2010, the Clay Potato Fiction Award in 2004, and the Poet Lore Translation Prize in 1972.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury