A German word for roofmelt-
the snow and ice that slide
from the ungentle slopes
of farmhouse woodframe rooftiles.
It is a word for death,
handwritten in tar on riftsawn scraps
of black forrest pine and fir
saved by thrifting marshall-plan-Germany
and written by a new, silent culture
with its inordinate carefulness,
and everything in its place.
The signs appear in the elongated
winter months and say:
The subject ‘you’
and verb ‘might get killed’
are absent but implied.
As is the imperative, ‘don’t.’
Once, the country was known
for the typical steep pitch
of its farmhouse roofs.
So that the snow would slide
as it came, so that the winter buildup,
would not crush the mortised joints,
or slide, frozen, onto passersby.
But generations of younger carpenters
were taught to save wood, calming
the acute slope of the fathers houses, using less
of their black forest, fewer rooftiles
reducing the overhanging lip
that once came out a carriage width,
and would reach almost to the ground.
instead of these now hang the flat-swan notice reading:
in winters resplendent with the waning
snowdrift wooded pileup to which this sign refers
and one can tell tell the age
of a building’s renovations
by the angle of its spline