Given the Weather: a Blizzard Poem from George Murray’s Whiteout

whiteout george murray

Given the weather this week, The Overcast couldn’t launch its “And Now a Poem” series with a more appropriate poem. “Whiteout” is from George Murray’s 2012 collection of the same name. Murray has a knack for gleaning meaning from his surroundings: in “The Snails,” he uses accidentally stepping on snails as a means to meditate on chance. In the poem below, a man in a car in a storm muses on the symbolism one could see in a raging blizzard, if one were on the precipice of great change in their life, as the author was when he wrote this collection. Whiteout is essentially a collection of potent poems that focus on navigating a divorce.

“The book largely focuses on seeking order in chaos,” Murray has said. “It’s a post-divorce book in much of its subject matter and, as such, plumbs and organizes that chaotic mental space and time, but it’s also about allowing that rampant confusion, grief, and chaotic rebirth to exist within the confines of a life that requires some illusion of dignity, stability, and grace.”

George’s poetry has been published internationally, and he’s a three-time finalist for Newfoundland’s EJ Pratt Poetry Award. Most recently, Whiteout was a finalist for the prestigious Atlantic Poetry Prize.

“Whiteout”

Pull the car over and take a moment
to note that this is where the road ends,
notwithstanding the memory of the path
continuing around the bend. The last
red taillights are painted over and the snow
presses its face up against the window,
begging to be let in. Turn the engine off,
it says, and hear this original soft
sound, a book of white nothing. I am life
without knowing the rules: no signs, no lights, no lines
on the road; no ditches, asphalt, or curbs;
no people to see, no horizons or turns
to make; no destination. Draw aside.
Let your engine die and we’ll compromise
temperature, colour, sound. I am life
where life heaves, turns and reads its final leaf.
Inside, the tick-tock of cooling machinery;
outside, the rattle ends this needless scenery.
If the road goes on without you, it goes blind.
Here, all is only static and knuckles cracking;
here you ease the tension ahead by waiting,
despite the chance of being hit from behind.

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