I have a black and white winter picture
of my father and grandfather standing
in front of our house on Willard Street.
They are at the mouth of the driveway
and have been shoveling, but stop to rest
and look at the camera for a moment.
I can almost hear my mother saying, let me
get a picture. They aren’t smiling. The snow is
deep. The snow, even from here, looks heavy.
They aren’t dressed for the job. They are
indoor people caught unprepared for this,
the weight of the weather, the need to smile.
It must have been a lull between storms,
the need to get to the store, and the lack of
anyone more fitted to the task at hand.
It is the 1940s. This is men’s essential work
summarized in shades of gray, one moment
captured in what must have been hours.
It is the 1940s. They look tired and older
than they really were. They are the heroes,
in a way, of this, their terrible small battle.
It is the 1940s. There must be a world war going
on somewhere, over there, beyond the snow
banks, beyond this pause in heavy shoveling,
but this was the 1940s in a place apart, where
the day-to-day could this easily be cleared away,
where a moment was worth holding on to.