A Negative of Snow – Chase Twichell

Ice on the puddles,
in the cups of fallen leaves.
I’d walk with Dad and a handful
of other men, the setters working
the fields, the underbrush.
It was my job to carry the birds.
I’d have them all plucked
by the time we got back to the car.
On the walk out I’d look
for puddles I’d missed
and break them.

Though many moonless nights
have fallen on the grave
like a negative of snow,
Dad’s wheelchair sometimes
flashes in my mind, and I hear
the bleating down the hall,
a voice berating its god,
his worthless anodynes,
and the doctors who were
at that very moment
increasing his morphine,
having failed to note
the word alcoholic on his chart,
meaning that his damaged liver
routed the opiates straight
to his brain, his beautiful fragile brain,
which I had not yet finished loving.
My father, who still had manners,
who was a hardwood, a tough tree.
That was his first death.

Can we all just revel in the way that every single line, every single phrase here, is important? I want that. I want to strive for that in my writing and as I revise and revise and revise all I can think is that my language isn’t beautiful enough, that it doesn’t do enough, that everything is not working hard enough. Fellow writers, does that make any sense at all?
I’m beginning to understand why so many writers turn to recreational substances: it’s to get their minds off of the feelings of inadequacy and imperfection! Not that I’d do all that, stick my head in the oven like Sylvia Plath, but I am saying I can certainly relate. And when I realize this it’s always time to go watch Liz Gilbert’s Ted Talk on creativity and the muse. It makes all of this, the weight and the compulsion and the joy of writing, so much easier to bear.