W. D. Ehrhart  

The Blizzard of Sixty-six

    Snow came early here, and hard:
roads treacherous; wires down.
School authorities should have cancelled
the annual high school Christmas dance:
two couples died on the way home.
"Tragedy!" the local papers declared,
but the snow kept falling.

Somewhere in a folder in a file
is a photograph of me in a uniform:
one stripe for PFC; girl in a yellow gown.
I took her home through the falling snow,
kissed goodnight, and left for Asia.

All through that long year, snow
fell and fell on the green rice,
on gray buffalo, thatched huts, green
patrols, and the mounting yellow dead.

Randy, class of '65, died
in terminal cold in the Mekong Delta;
Kenny, class of '66, died in a blizzard
of lead in the Central Highlands;
I came home with permanent chills,
the yellow nameless dead of Asia
crammed into my seabag, and all of us
looking for a reason.

We never found one. Presidents
come and go away like snowdrifts
in driveways; generals come and go;
the earth goes on silently turning
and turning through its seasons,
and the snow keeps falling.
      go back go to next    
    Copyright © 1984 by W. D. Ehrhart
The Outer Banks, Adastra Press, 1984
This poem currently appears in Thank You For Your Service: Collected Poems, McFarland & Company, 2019
Copyright © 2011 - W. D. Ehrhart - homepage
go back Go back go to next Go to next