Frost in Washington

Listening to the car radio we could see
the images clearly through the snow,
the wipers pushing white stuff aside
in thin rows, Robert trying to read
in the wind, the pages flapping one
over the other, the sun off the snow,

the poet struggling with aging sight,
reciting finally, “The Gift Outright.”
And it was, for a moment. At the end
of Pine Street we turned left onto Grand
listening to Frost, Kennedy’s inaugural
address, thinking of a new day.

Not that we were overly critical,
we were not. But we had been reading
Mencken and he had a lot to say
about politicians and presidents. He liked
dead politicians, and presidents somewhat less.
He didn’t have much to say about

the others, those days, Martin King,
the kids in Mississippi who would be dead
in a short time. But by then Mencken
was dead, he too was history. So we
listened to the words driving in the wind
and snow and imagined a new day,

not expecting it to snow damned-near
forever, or that we might run out of gas
and have to walk to the nearest bar
to watch the end of the ceremony
on a cheap TV in the corner, the images
barely visible through the snow.