This week’s poem, David Patterson’s “First Snow,” was inspired by a real-life encounter, when as a teacher, he witnessed a foreign exchange student’s first experience of snowfall. I love how this poem’s speaker uses plain, conversational language to try to describe something happening in the snow that is mysterious, essential and uncommonly beautiful.

Patterson is the author of the novel “Soon the Light Will be Perfect” (Hanover Square Press, 2019). His work has appeared in Salon, Hot Metal Bridge and Slice Magazine. He was a finalist for a Maine Literary Award and is a contributing writer to Maine Magazine. He teaches at Gorham High School and lives in Cape Elizabeth with his wife, two small children and gracefully aging chocolate lab.

Poets, please note that submissions to Deep Water are open through the end of the year. Deep Water is especially eager to share poems by Black writers, writers of color, Indigenous writers, LGBTQ writers and other underrepresented voices. You’ll find a link to submit in the credits below.

First Snowfall
By David Patterson
for Anna

Today I met an Italian kid who had never seen snow.
He was sixteen or seventeen, this kid,
and the look on his face, it was: bliss,
bewilderment, awe, terror—it’s hard to pin down.

He called his mother to tell her about it.
They spoke in Italian, I guess. I don’t know what
he was saying, but I got the gist. When his words
fell short, as words often do at the most crucial
moments, he FaceTimed her. Seeing, she understood,
but only so far, that much was clear. He finally hung
up. It was lost on his mother, this snow falling
from the sky, each flake different from the next
in a way that seems impossible if it weren’t true.

I left him alone finally to not disturb his run-in
with the sublime—how often do we get to experience this
world anew? Not a lot, really, unless you’re a monk
or a philosopher, and who has time for that anymore?

An hour later, I saw him out my window, this kid from Italy,
still standing there in the snow. If he was cold,
he didn’t show it, though he wore only a cotton sweatshirt
and jeans ripped in a way meant to be stylish.

At one point, he raised his arms out to the side
like a messiah, as if he was the one who’d made
the world a smudge of white. And maybe he was.

It’s hours later now, and the Italian kid is gone,
tucked inside, I imagine, some warm house,
a curl of smoke twisting out the chimney.
But it’s still snowing, harder now, and they say
it will continue late into the night. I’m trying
to remember this Italian kid’s expression, the way
he couldn’t stop laughing. I need to tell you
about it—I don’t know why, but it suddenly
feels as if everything in my life depends on it.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “First Snow,” © 2021 by David Patterson. Submissions to Deep Water are open now and through the end of the year. For more information, go to

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