Winter’s Construction

Icy slopes abound.
Icy slopes abound.

The ground is slowly building

upward with white additions

that create flickers of light

that you can only see at

certain angle as you bounce

up and down on your heels,

like the sky grounded up

a mirror and sprinkled the

millions of shards,

leaving the dust and remains

carelessly on the ground

for workers in camouflage

pants and shirts with

bright orange vests and

wooden brooms to sweep

and crack with shovels.

They pile the layers of

cake to the side of the

walkway so people don’t

trip into them or pound them

carelessly back into the

cracks and grout-less ruts

of the tiles that are even slick

during the summertime,

each piece shows its age

with strips of purest white

separated by dirt and grime

made compact by hundred

of boots marching

asynchronously to cadences


Those who walk these streets

are varied and similar:

Women in boots heeled

so high that they must shuffle

over patches of melted snow

that have refrozen into long

gnarled tracts of ice;

men in boots that hug to

the knees, coats opened

to reveal cheekily their

t-shirts and light sweaters,

as if to boast their

dominance over the cold;

children bundled so tightly

that they waddle precariously,

or held closely

in a silk cocoon,

perhaps a coated prison so tight

that limbs left to dangle

instead levitate.

Policemen in long leather coats,

fastened at the waist with

a flimsy belt,

a Russian box fur hat upon

their heads neatly,

boots polished to a blinding

sheen that intensifies the echoes

of each step, punctuated by

darting eyes and beardless faces

whipped by the sting of

minute frozen shards floating

on dry gusts

that seem to shoot straight up

towards the sky.

Old men stay hunched in their

claimed spots on heavily

shellacked wooden benches

with rusted legs and protruding

bolts to hold them to the seats,

some with canes held between

the knees with gloved hands,

congregating and laughing–

in spite of the cold that

brings out the colors

of the countryside

in their cheeks and noses–

for hours, or so it should

so rightly seem to those

who only pass them only

to see in their eyes

no intent of moving.

Old women shuffle along

the road in more

sensibly built shoes

with smoothened soles

and smart hats or scarves

wrapping their neatly trimmed

and somewhat curly hair,

purses around the elbows of

their bent arms,

sometimes adjusting the

thin belts of polished metal

and turquoise stones

that hold firmly their

loose traditional clothes

tightly to the waist to give

them a feminine shape

on the horizon in a sea

of patterned cloth.

The ground is slowly building

upward with white additions

that sometimes never quite

land in expected locations

to join others of their kind:

sometimes to evaporate

instantly above a steaming

opening in the ground,

sometimes to clump on the

stilled breathes lingering

on the pointed awnings

above dark chocolate eyes,

sometimes into the mouths

of children laughing

as they slide on pieces of

broken wood or cardboard

down impromptu slopes,

slanted in such a way

you can’t help but wonder

what their foundations

once appeared to be.

Composed 12/10/13

Author’s Note: Just trying new things, like describing what I see when I have to walk across town to get to my favorite vegetable shop. Lots of interesting folk to see out here.

It should also be noted that this poem appears in the December 2013 issue of the PC Mongolia internal publication, The PC Mongol Post. Cheers!


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