The girls are making snowflakes. The boss left early for the doctor. Momma Linda
Is showing them how to fold paper, cut it with scissors, open it up, voila.
Beth is meticulous making hers, like cutting away what isn't it—actually, there’s no "like" about it.
Sue just goes at it and finds out what's what after the fact. Making a snowflake is an old memory for her.
“O I wish you were my mom,” Beth says. She's 29 and Linda is — let me check in our system — 43.
Sue's first one has a surprise: little fish motif, like those you see on Christian bumpers.
Her second one is less curvy, more a template
Of geometrical signs and wonders. Believing in this snowflake might lead to a life in a house of worship.
Beth is finally done with hers. (She's taken long enough.) It's as intricate as a worrisome doily if there is such a thing.
She's just begun her second one — real small, the size of a newborn’s yarmulke.
“Oh make a snowflake,” Linda nags, “Oh make a snowflake make a snowflake a snowflake please...!”
I do it just to shut Linda up. I go at it with a forced nonchalance, a fake off-handedness,
Thinking I don’t want to be self-conscious, don’t want anyone to think I care about making a snowflake.
My snowflake is poor, both inattentive to details & unnatural
But with one pleasant feature, a pattern of what looks like Christmas trees — bold, stylized. They’re worker trees.
“There,” I say holding it up. Linda says, “It’s very pretty.” I go back to my office, go over a student roster,
Making up my own rule: the lowest GPA’s get the biggest grants.
Next thing I know the yammering about this flake and that has stopped.
The girls are back at the work that puts bread on our tables,
Opening mail with actual letter openers and pleasantly answering phone messages and filing variegated forms, et al,
But hanging by chains of paperclips from the ceiling are a dozen snowflakes,
Sue’s stilled explosions and Beth's lace and Linda’s — well, motherly ones.
May they hang here in our office’s sky beyond the boss’s return and bitter circumspection,
And past our emigration from under this sky in March, before the guys in the wrecking crew suddenly
Materialize in yellow hardhats, our snowflakes always falling, never fallen.
If you have any thoughts about this
poem, Dennis Finnell would
be pleased to hear them.