Thomas Merton in the Snow

Tonight we drove 
Against all odds 
To the Edina Grill

Everyone at the bar was sad 
And eventually left.

It is February 
Another name for the great crushing weight of winter 
Which lasts too long 
Which lasts just long enough 
To purify us for spring.

I drank two martinis 
And ate the sacred salmon
It was like going to Mass 
With a smiling priest 
Who knows everything 
And communicates it all 
In a single glance

(He is secretly agnostic).

Joanne drove us home 
And then I shoveled our driveway

And then I thought of you, 
Thomas Merton 
And shoveled the neighbor’s driveway as well.

I want you to know that I will always remember you 
Thomas Merton 

I look at the titles of your books —
Zen and the Birds of Appetite
Raids on the Unspeakable
The Wisdom of the Desert
The Way of Chang Tzu
The Seven Story Mountain
And I miss you terribly.

How is it even possible that you died?
And in such funky circumstances?

I want you to know 
That tonight I will read you 
Deep into the night. 

I want you to know 
That snow still falls in Minnesota
The crushing cold 
Pure, unforgiving, sacrificial, holy 
And instantly sobering
Washes us clean. 

I set aside my shovel 
And stared into the full moon 
I would have gladly stood there all night 
And frozen to death

But I retreated inside 
To die into another night’s sleep 
And wake into another day.