WORSHIP OF WHAT IS ABSENT
Curtains of green vinyl
blocked city air and light
from open windows of Room Eight,
La Merced Elementary,
where thirty of us inhaled
hot essence of celluloid.
The projector, clicking, whirring,
pulling film through races and pulleys,
cast black-and-white images
through dust-flecked air.
Those precious minutes
we did not write in our spellers
or read in our readers;
we had to do nothing but watch,
one time a film about snow--
children and grown-ups in mittens
and plaid coats on a white hillside.
Then the microscopic--
snowflakes in rows on glass,
some latticed and crossed,
others flat, plane-edged like gems,
all with six points,
each exactly like the other five,
but unlike every point
of every other snowflake in the world.
I desperately wanted to roll a snowball
and even more to see symmetric flakes
through a lens and think
what I saw no one else
had seen or would see.
was that white hillside?
No doubt in the East,
the kind of place parents knew all about,
where snow was normal
and the L.A. smog I breathed
was strange. I had no snow,
no way to go where it snowed,
no path to bright white crystalline holiness.
John Nimmo's poetry has appeared in Stirring, Rattle, Wisconsin Review, Sand Hill Review, Tattoo Highway, Convergence, and other publications. He has won a cash prize in the Foster City International Writers Contest. He has an active career as an environmental physicist, and lives with his wife Elsa in Mountain View, California. See his poetry website at http://www.rubydoor.org/jnpoet/index.html.