Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

Shoveling Snow With Buddha


In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Do you like this poem?
14 person liked.
3 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: snow, chocolate, car, winter, silence, work, hair, song, smile, lost, sky, light, world

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Shoveling Snow With Buddha by Billy Collins )

Enter the verification code :

Read all 2 comments »

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. If, Rudyard Kipling
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  4. A Child's Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas
  5. And Death Shall Have No Dominion, Dylan Thomas
  6. No Man Is An Island, John Donne
  7. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  8. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  9. A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
  10. O Captain! My Captain!, Walt Whitman

Poem of the Day

poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

...... Read complete »

   

New Poems

  1. Candid Clichés, Ugggh!, Frank James Ryan Jr...FjR
  2. Saturday's Sultry Soho Spinster {Alliter.., Frank James Ryan Jr...FjR
  3. Beyond Emerald City..., Frank James Ryan Jr...FjR
  4. Patience, Michael P. McParland
  5. Out Of The Dark, Michael P. McParland
  6. The war inside me, Lubinda Lubinda
  7. Our Night 2, Michael P. McParland
  8. Our Night, Michael P. McParland
  9. OSU Force, Michael P. McParland
  10. Imagine, The Astronomer
[Hata Bildir]