Mark Strand’s ‘A Piece of the Storm’

The late Mark Strand, Poet Laureate of the US in 1990-1991, often wrote about the intersection of the inner life with external reality. In a 1998 interview in The Paris Review, Strand alluded to the appeal of the mystery of poetry:

When I read poetry, I want to feel myself suddenly larger . . . in touch with—or at least close to—what I deem magical, astonishing. I want to experience a kind of wonderment. And when you report back to your own daily world after experiencing the strangeness of a world sort of recombined and reordered in the depths of a poet’s soul, the world looks fresher somehow.

In her The New York Times review of his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Blizzard of One, Deborah Garrison noted that:

Strand doesn’t approach the universal through the particular. He approaches the universal through the universal…Even the single snowflake that gives the volume its title…is a kind of Platonic essence, linked to a continuum of snowflakes out there in the weather and inside, in the reader’s consciousness.


A Piece of the Storm
for Sharon Horvath

From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed. That’s all
There was to it. No more than a solemn waking
To brevity, to the lifting and falling away of attention, swiftly,
A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that
Except for the feeling that this piece of the storm,
Which turned into nothing before your eyes, would come back, That someone years hence, sitting as you are now, might say:
“It’s time. The air is ready. The sky has an opening.”

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