Joanne Durham, Woman and Man in Snow

Woman and Man in Snow

After Stein (‘Embrace’)

In the dark street, slick and silenced by snow,
a woman and a man embrace
beneath a streetlamp that haloes them above their shadows.
No sign of a car, not even a stray cat stealing a sliver of midnight
from a shivering moon.
Maybe they are hugging hello, maybe goodbye,
with coats so thick, fingers gloved,
it must be impossible
to feel each other’s heartbeat.
No, more than possible. Maybe they’re young in love
and relish the rest of the world’s loneliness.
Have you held that moment, at least once in your life,
when you could not have been any warmer —
even in a blizzard so blinding it all turned out to be a mirage?

This poem was inspired by a Fred Stein photograph, Embrace, 1934, from his Paris collection.

Joanne Durham is the author of To Drink from a Wider Bowl, winner of the Sinclair Poetry Prize (Evening Street Press 2022). Her chapbook On Shifting Shoals will be published by Kelsay Books. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Poetry South, Poetry East, CALYX, and numerous other journals and anthologies. She lives on the coast of North Carolina, USA, with the ocean as her backyard and muse. Visit her:

One thought on “Joanne Durham, Woman and Man in Snow

  1. Dear Joanne,

    Such a lovely response to the “Embrace” photograph. Your evocative description of ageless love, opening that feeling for anyone of any age, with your simple, direct question: “Have you held that moment?” . . . sending the reader into reverie . . .


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