January 2006 /Volume Seven / Issue One
Kenneth P. Gurney
Snowshoes

A man I met on my vacation to Jamaica
told me he once read a book
about walking through the snow
just so he understood the cold.

I tried to ignore him, but he shouted loudly
so everyone under all the beach umbrellas
could hear how he wanted to go up north
and hunt polar bears with a harpoon.

He figured he could easily spear a polar bear
because he was good at spearing fish in the lagoon.

He ignored me when I told him
spearing a polar bear would only make it mad,
as if I had any real experience with polar bears
because I grew up in Chicago and saw some
at Brookfield zoo twice a year.

After a while he grew quiet and set his feet
in the sun so he could pick at his toes.

Then he apologized for not knowing
the full list of fifteen lexemes for “snow”
that the Yup’ik speaking Eskimos use.

When the waiter came by,
I ordered Snowshoe cocktails for both of us,
but the man wanted nothing to do with that
and went away.
RETURN TO JANUARY 2006