The Abominable Snowman (Ron Koertge)

December 30, 2008

Up here on the forehead of the world, it’s always
cold. On the other hand, there’s very little crime.

My wife and I live in a cave way above the snow
line. It’s a simple life with no distractions to

speak of. There’s lots of foraging. Otherwise
we practice nonchalance. For fun, we leave

footprints and sometimes intriguing scat
a cameraman has to take a close-up of.

There’s always a cameraman, part of a team:
one in a Nessie baseball hat and this time

ardent Nora who wants to be the first woman
to photograph us. She thinks the men have

gone about it all wrong and her notes, pinned
to a glacier, are charming: Help me believe!

And I have fire. Really. In her journal, which I
pilfer while they sleep or hike, Nora’s worried

about her hair. She’s planned an assignation
with a man she met on the plane. Well, well.

Someone handsomer than I, no doubt. Still,
I like her, so I grunt into a tape recorder

before I leave and urinate in a hat, not the one
she planned to wear for her rendezvous in Bhutan, I hope.


A son of the north, I grew up fascinated by Bigfoot, and was an early believer. I still have reason to suspect dogmen haunt several counties of western Michigan (Wexford County with some certainty), and that Mishosha once walked the same thin, mosquito-swarmed beaches of Lake Superior’s Pictured Rocks lakeshore I walked as a kid. Koertge, of course, knows there is great fun in all this. His abominable snowman is not only domesticated, but funny. To risk oversimplification, I like to think Koertge preserves–usually through irreverence and humor–something wonderfully childlike in an otherwise adult world. In his short poem “First Grade,” he writes:

Until then, every forest
had wolves in it…

So who is this woman with the gray
breath calling out names and pointing
to the little desks we will occupy
for the rest of our lives?

And yet I can almost hear Koertge writing another poem revealing the surprising inner life of “this woman.” Who knows, maybe he has, or will. Anyway, I thought it appropriate to end a heavy year on a lighter note. Happy New Year! And if you’re out in the cold, watch your hat!

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