December 16, 2011KR OnlinePoetry

Winter in the Park

First Published in The Kenyon Review, Vol. XII, No. 1, (Winter 1950)

Lagoons are shrunk and walkable as concrete,
The little islands accessible now
That in June were a green secret the sunburnt lovers
Bumped with their rented prow.

Trees empty and fibrous, as if their roots were in air
By the sidewalks burled with ice
Where concessions huddle boarded, nothing to sell.
Oh how it was shady and nice

In easy July, in the ice-cream days, the lazy
Lying in sunhot grass we two;
The creak and bobble of crowing, the dusty scuff
And stare in the barbarous zoo

Where lions lay bearded like Holbeins and polar bears swung;
Where Jumbo waved sousaphone trunk;
The black leopard circled in whirlwind with flashlight for eyes;
Kangaroos hopped erotic and drunk.

Ape, tiger, swan (a child’s red A B C)
Spelled us then, spelled our rage and play.
Now the violent nursery is numb under snow,
The great playthings put away.

John Frederick Nims was the author of seven books of poetry, along with translations of Euripides, St. John of the Cross, Michaelangelo, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. He served as editor of Poetry magazine from 1978-1984 and edited the widely used textbook Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry.