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Ice Storm

Robert Hayden
Unable to sleep, or pray, I stand
by the window looking out
at moonstruck trees a December storm
has bowed with ice.

Maple and mountain ash bend
under its glassy weight,
their cracked branches falling upon
the frozen snow.

The trees themselves, as in winters past,
will survive their burdening,
broken thrive. And am I less to You,
my God, than they?
Master of the Universe?
Why I chose this poem: 

I don't have a favorite poem, though I have many that I dearly love.  This is one of them.  And it's short.  Which might encourage people to actually read it.  In my home office, the amazing artist Dee Hutch tagged one of the walls with lines of poems I love in graffiti text, including the last sentence in this poem.  Hayden is one of only two poets with more than one line on the wall, because there's a line from his "Ballad of Nat Turner" included on the wall, too (the other poet with two lines on the wall is John Donne).  Reading much of Hayden's work is like looking at the Grand Canyon, to me.  It's just unfathomable how normal people can create such powerful little things sometimes.

Nick Demske lives in Racine Wisconsin and works as a children's librarian at the Racine Public Library. In his community, he's very involved in local politics, racial justice work and criminal justice reform. He is also an elected official (County Supervisor, Racine County Dist 1). Nick is author of a self-titled collection of poems which was chosen for the Fence Modern Poets Series prize by Joyelle McSweeney and published by Fence Books in 2010.

Find this poem in: 
Cover of Collected Poems