The Immigrants (Winter Wear) by Rane Arroyo

They are, at first, scared of snowmen.
Of the snow and the white men
so easily born between the hands of

children veiled in breaths and winter wear.
The immigrants worry about bodies
built without concerns for their souls,

about this strange country in which food
is so plentiful that carrots are used
for noses. White pillars are made by

tall chimneys. No wonder that furry
Santa Claus has replaced Jesus of
the desert: boots needed, as are hats

and vague drinks like vodka or gin. Rum
is too allied with the sun and the sugar
of any rotting calendar. This freezing

is a funeral before there is a corpse.
Snowballs take on the shape of baby skulls.
Snow angels need no documentations.

Enough, it’s over: back to thawing kitchens
full of chiles and recipes requiring all
that won’t grow in this version of tundra.

Seal up the goddamn windows with
steam, says an old woman, this is no cruise,
there is nothing to see. Crows fly across

the scars of ice ages, period marks desperate
for sentences. Language will be learned
and the unlearning is one storm at a time.

Nostalgia is seen as being ungrateful for
the blessings of the cold. Citizens walk on
water, here, while it’s thick ice, a miracle.

Snowmen melt without proper funerals as
immigrants are robbed of years of light.
Amigos, say snowflake, snowplow, snow-blind.

 

To learn more about Rane Arroyo, visit his page on the Poetry Foundation’s website by clicking
here
.

This poem comes from Rane Arroyo’s book The Portable Famine.

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Below is the centuries-old image we referenced in the show of Santa tempting Jesus in the desert.