Sisley’s “Snow at Louveciennes”

“Thou shalt not steal.” Most everyone grows up with this dictum usually applied to material goods.

It’s not only immoral; it’s illegal.

However, we are having to live with one who steals from us and gets away with it.

45 steals our attention. Of course we are obliged to pay heed to what issues come before our leaders, keep a vigilant watch, as we learned, likely in elementary school.

But today this thief breaks and enters and steals what deserves our attentiveness, distracts us from those we love, from our dogs and cats, our breakfast, our own cares and passions. Imagine! Our attention stolen and tossed to a feud between 45 and Alec Baldwin.

There you are trying to comfort a friend, have a good time with a loved one, trying to fix the faucet, while slithering around in your consciousness is this blatant thief, and you find yourself saying to the other person, “Did you see what he tweeted today? Right there, right then, he stole what you would have said about the weather, the kids, what happened to Helen or Tom.

Sisley’s “Snow at Louveciennes”

We see white on white, a woman
in the bleak center of the canvas,
this cold holding onto the rolling

snow lying along the fences,
tree limbs, hipped roofs,
stone walls of the lost village.

On a cottage door, a quiet blot
of blue. Wrapped in a tatter
of brown, the woman, deep

in the landscape’s insistent flat,
has the anonymity of a still life.
She is your mother unable to return,

staring into the blizzard’s dread
beauty, seeing only the sky,
a mute wash of blue hanging fragile,

spare as the frozen air. She stands
bordered by the indifference
of daylight, imagines a cardinal

cutting its wound across the snow,
a cat crawling under a cottage,
curling its tail around its sleep.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Harpur Palate
Subsequently published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Visit Roan & Black and Cabbages & Kings and Reader’s World to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

And, of course, click here to visit, check out what Jack’s been up to, maybe say hi!

12 thoughts on “Sisley’s “Snow at Louveciennes”

  1. Thanks Jack for reminding us we have so much to see of beauty, and truth in our lives, to be distracted by such a corrupt man, and his enablers and horsemen he rode in on, to loose sight and the enjoyment of what is real, lovely, and attentive in our lives, and our culture. We all need to take a break, from this madness, and focus our attention and love on each other. I’m perhaps more guilty than most of putting too much time, and focus into his chaotic leadership, at the cost of using this time and energy toward making things better in my family and community life.

    • Ahhhh Nick. Thank you, so very much. And my hunch is that this
      from you was good for you yourself to compose.
      You are an uncommonly loving dad and husband.
      And I’d pause to give you a parking spot any ole time.

  2. “Cutting its wound across the snow.” More like this poem is sticking an icicle into my soul. Remarkable imagery, Jack. This poem touches me as I think of my mother, in the cold, cold winter of her life, remembering a small candle of her youth. Thank you for taking me away from the Great Distractor for just a few minutes.

    You know, there are times when I sit down to a lunch that Teresa has prepared, or we embark on a walk along the Bear River, and I feel the urge to begin our conversation with a lament about him. Then I take a breath, and I think of a slice from a poem to share or to tell her that I saw a Stellar’s Jay in our back yard that morning.

    Thank you for today’s reminder that I must do this more and more! Eric Stemle Snowy Wyoming ________________________________

    • Eric,
      And you sent a icicle of goodness into this heart with your stunningly
      moving message. My thanks are an abundance.

      And I all but choked up at your lyrically moving words about you with
      Teresa. What a gift to her that is, that breath you take, that Stellar’s
      Jay you saw.

      May you keep taking those breaths.
      Thank ye. So so so much for writing this to me.

  3. Jack, I have sent out our goose as a guard against the unwanted diversion that 45 has become….if I cannot figure out how to send you his most recent portrait from my green roof, I will send it to you via email. He and the sounds of the sandhill cranes caress the cracks of my being on these snowy days of March…and I wish you the same richness of distraction from the insidious distractor or our nation. Thank you for the reminder of how that works….and for the poem that is so full of white warmth like this month in which we abide. Love to you and Julie and the critters, Ginny
    Also, do you remember the wonderful workshop we did at the MMA with teachers meandering the paintings and writing poems like yours? That was such a rich day together and I still like the poems I wrote from that day with you.

    • Do I remember? You bet your sweet Botticelli I do! What fun!

      Keep that goose on guard.I’ll be sure to check email for him. I love your line about the cranes . . .cracks . . . being . . . March.
      Love to you and Larry every second

  4. Thanks so much for the reminder to not get get caught up and being so upset that we let him steal all that is truly important to us. Love to you and Julie, Mary TP

    Sent from my iPad


    • Mary, dear Mary

      Thank ye. To know this mattered to you lifts this heart. And I love
      knowing that when I sit down on Wednesday to write these, that I
      am writing to my friend, Mary and Bob.

  5. Jack, with your piercing insight about 45 as a thief, I realized that I am trying so hard to connect people to an outlet – a classic mystery, a rousing discussion on homelessness, a mission, how to make chocolate turtles that I have not taken the time to lose myself in astoundingly powerful poetry like yours. I forgot that ingesting imagery that takes your breath away and clutches your soul helps you see more clearly the woodpecker at the suet or the teen checking out Jane Eyre for fun. Thank you for your abundant generosity and glorious perception. Marsha Meyer

  6. Pingback: Mit Lyrik gegen Nummer 45 protestieren – AMERIKA WÄHLT

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s