Snow on new home construction

Letter to America by E. A. Greenwell

One Poem

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


[Ahmaud Arbery] entered the English home at approximately 1:04 p.m. and left that home at about 1:08 on that day.
  – Judge Timothy R. Walmsley

How many times have I walked freely
through the undone bones of a house?
Curious, wondering where home begins,
and if I didn’t know it then, how
neighborhoods begin, if not nationhood,
with a certain order of boards. I ran
palms along each raw and knotted stud.
I worried what depth of weakening
light flakes of heavy snow inflict inside
a timber, can manifest itself as collapse
inside a family’s life. Death was distant
then. It is still. Is snow. Is natural
and salient in how it comes predictably
down. There, or there. I’ve had time
to worry recklessly: How fine is calamity?
How does it land, like snow, gradually
and elsewhere? I walked through walls
ambitious framers left. I stared through
roofs no roofer had paneled yet, holes
open to the sky that used to be more sky,
and I asked myself what the living there
would be and not be like. I admired
hard angles, and how crews turned screws
like a planet turns and turns the snow
into a home, and it never had to matter
that a shade I learned my skin is called
is the same as snow. Snow that stays
the chop saw, sending builders home,
leaving those sites there for me to roam
and linger. Partly, because it isn’t. Partly,
because I’ve never had to know my hand
compared to snow reduces the truth
of snow. A plain face. A mass of facets.
Mostly, though, because I have the time
to wander through the almost home,
to wonder where to frame the windows
and where the stove will go.




E. A. GreenwellE. A. Greenwell lives in western Montana, where he writes and works to conserve land and community values. He’s a former PEN/Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident and played a pivotal role in the $6.75 million acquisition and management plan of the East Moraine Community Forest. He’s shopping out his first manuscript, 28 Bones: Poems.

Read poetry by E. A. Greenwell previously appearing in

Header image by sockagphoto, courtesy Shutterstock. is the first online literary journal of place, publishing award-winning literature, art, editorials, and community case studies since 1998.