by 2020 Poetry Second Prize Winner Patrick Cabello Hansel
I wrote the poem “First Snowfall on 18th
Avenue” near the end of 2019. That’s
less than a year ago, but it seems more like a decade! All that has happened in 2020—military
confrontation with Iran, the pandemic, the recession, police killings of
African Americans, protests and counter protests—all was on the horizon on
that peaceful early winter evening. I
had no idea what 2020 would bring, but you can see a hint of it in the middle
As the hours pass,
quiet settles over the city like a
calming womb: to drive, to shout,
to summon sirens or a gunshot
would be blasphemy.
I usually write about more gritty things. My first book The Devouring Land (Main
Street Rag Publishing) was a lot about immigration and urban struggles. My book Quitting Tine (Atmosphere
Press) is about my father and his difficult, beautiful life.
I live less than a mile from where George Floyd
was killed. Until I retired in June, I
worked two blocks from where the worst arson in Minneapolis for more than 50 years
occurred. I try to engage that
reality—in my life and in my writing—with clarity, courage, and compassion.
One of the things that helps me do that is trusting
that we are held and blessed by a love wilder and more beautiful than we imagine. In this poem, the snow is the metaphor for
the white, starlit dust of our
beginning and of our end eases us up
and towards bed. Sleep is snow’s
sacred balm to the wide world.
Kiss upon kiss will fall upon us
throughout the long hours.
Let us breathe.
If you’d like to hear more about my passion for beauty and justice check out my blog "Spirit Wounds."
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Patrick Cabello Hansel has published poems, stories, and essays in more than 60 journals, including Isthmus, Ash & Bones, and Lunch Ticket.
Read Hansel's prize-winning poem "First Snowfall on 18th Avenue"
on pages 23-24 of Bacopa Literary Review 2020