November 1st

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154

He taught you everything you know about snow. You know it’s frozen
vapour, watery particles congealed into crystals that fall to earth. You
know it’s formed in the air when the temperature of the atmosphere
sinks below freezing-point, that the minute crystals of ice form flakes
which present countless modifications of the hexagonal system. You
know these crystals adhere together and form irregular clusters, and
that the incident rays of light which are refracted and reflected to
present individually the prismatic colours, are scattered after reflection
and combine to give the colour sensation of white. It was years before
you realised that this meant snow lies.

In the years you spent together it only snowed twice. The first time,
you woke and knew it was there even before you’d looked out of the
window – something about the light, flat and shadowy. And sound was
flattened too, the cloak of snow muffling everything from birdsong to
car engines. Neither of you wanted to shovel the drive, preferred to
leave the drifts undisturbed. When you had to go out you played a
game of walking in each other’s footsteps. You liked the look of a single
track leading to and from the lane. You made a snow-rabbit together.

The second time there was only a skinny crust of the stuff. The
gravel on the drive poked through as soon as you stepped on it. By the
next day it was a tide of brown slush, by the day after, it only looked
like it had rained.

It wasn’t the snow’s fault, you’re not blaming it, and you don’t want to
bestow it with symbolic significance. It’s only that you can’t think of
him now without thinking about snow. About the snow-rabbit. How
for weeks you watched its slow escape into the melt.

45 comments:

  1. People can die from silence. I watched my mother shrink away from the world, retreating further and further into a tomb of silence. A tomb of her own making. In the end she could have walked past you in the same room and you wouldn’t have heard a thing – not a footstep, not a rustle of clothing, not even a whisper of breath.

    After she died, I found myself becoming quieter too. It might sound strange if you’ve never experienced anything like this but I’d notice myself sitting in a chair, or standing in a queue at the bank. I’d be watching myself, a woman with her hands in her lap staring out of the window, or at the back of the head of the man in front of her, transfixed by the dandruff on his shoulders. And there’d be some kind of invisible wall between me and her. The kind of wall you can pound on with all your might but the person on the other side doesn’t hear a thing.

    I’d like to say my mother stopped talking and decided to slowly leave the world because of something traumatic – one of her children dying, or losing a breast, or anything that you’d be able to understand. But the truth is she stopped because she said she’d lost interest. ‘Everything’s so wishy-washy,’ was one of the last things she said to me.

    I look at everything more carefully now. Not at the surface of things – it’s a bright day, she looks well, grab a sandwich – but beneath all that. The leaves on the maple scarlet only on the south side of the tree, a laughter line. And this – a layer or rocket between two slices of bread. The peppery slug of it as I sit here and really chew.

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  2. He didn't want to know about fire. Even your holidays together were always taken in snowy perches on vertiginous mountainsides. You could have taught him so much about warmth: how to sunbathe in a field, grass tickling the hairs on your arms; how to melt in a sauna, where your very bones seemed to soften in the heat; how to roast sweet-smelling chestnuts over the companionable crackle and hiss of a blazing log fire. But he didn't want to learn. It's too hot, he would say, and move away. As he did in bed. Sex only worked for him if you lay still, uncovered, your white skin cool to his touch, your buttocks like snowdrifts.

    At first you adored his composure. You remember thinking, early on, that you might come to balance each other: maybe you could grow to be more even-tempered and he could get the hang of being spontaneous. You liked the idea and tried hard, reaching for equanimity. But he didn't try. Talking about it was no use. Why would I want to change, he asked? I'm fine as I am. But I can't reach you, you cried. Not out loud, though.

    You have achieved serenity, now, and it feels good. Cool and white on the inside, not hot and red like you used to be. You are grateful to him for that. He doesn't have that balance. But you have a plan to help him. The equipment is beside you, on the front seat of the car: petrol can, long matches, fireproof gloves, key to his flat. His front door is just across the street. And the snow is beginning to fall, big soft flakes to hide your footprints. You have been waiting a long time for this moment. At last you can make everything right.

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  3. There are four weighing machines throughout the house now. She thinks I don’t notice, but I find them tucked under things. Once I came back five minutes early and found one behind the cushion on the sofa. She must have been in there weighing herself.

    You’ll fade away, I say. I’ll come home from work one day and you’ll have melted. You’ll be a puddle on the carpet.

    She tells me one night in bed, in a whisper, because she thinks I’m asleep, that she wants to eat only snow. She wants to turn everything she eats into nothing. She wants to be at peace with the world and fighting against it, shoving great lumps of solid into her body isn’t doing the trick.

    Snow is her white flag.

    The next morning I fry her some bacon. Funny how the grease it leaves on the plate is like the mush snow leaves when it’s melting, I tell her. I want her to know that I listen to her. Even when she’s not talking to me, I listen.

    That time I found the scales behind the cushion, I put them in the middle of the room, where she couldn’t fail to see them, where she almost tripped over them when she came into the room.

    She said nothing.

    I tell her I can’t wait for winter. That summer is boring. We should make snow angels, I tell her. We’ll go to a dark wood where no one has ever stepped on the snow and I’ll carry you so it looks as if you’ve flown there. Everyone will wonder why there are no footsteps.

    She looks interested. She rarely looks interested in anything solid these days.

    You’ll be weightless, I tell her. She melts, but inside I can feel the ice gather.

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  4. These are all wonderful. Thank you for taking part! For the anonymous contributors, if you want to remain anonymous, fine, but if you would like a shot at the book and don't want to make your email public, then please email us privately with your name and the first few lines of your message. Thanks!

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  5. It’s never the snow’s fault. It’s just the way your mind works, maybe more attuned to cold than to heat. It’s when you come out and see a frozen tear on your windscreen, one that won’t melt in the slithering frost. And then fires rage. And on the other side of the world there’s burning and you smell smoke and catch a whiff of eucalyptus. And the flames skip through the treetops and they’re so close and you hope and pray that they’ve cleaned out the guttering on the roof of the house you turned your back on so many years ago.

    The house always survived through the years, through the fires. That’s what they told you. You believed them. You never thought beyond your big doona coat and keeping yourself warm.

    And now you stand in the cold and want to roll up your sleeves, help in some way; and your hand grabs the scraper and guts the soft frost, but the tear doesn’t budge. So you go back and fetch a cup of hot water. It’s sizzling around you, the flames licking closer. It’s been dry for years, and you never noticed. You never noticed the years spin into decades of big warm doonas. You never noticed the heat. It was warmth that you wanted. But now in the cold it’s warmer than comfort. You see hoses trained on the house back home. You want to be there passing the buckets, doing your bit to make the fires go out.

    You pour some hot water onto the windscreen, dig at the tear, and it slips free at last. You sniff at its edges and catch just a faint whiff of eucalyptus. They’ll be going to bed soon if all is well, otherwise it’ll be another long bloody night.

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  6. Those were the days when you didn’t feel the cold. The days when an afternoon with a sledge and a steep slope meant a moment of downrushing glory, of heartlifting speed and the legs of others flashing past too fast to focus. When pink hands were glowing and lumps of wooly ice were stuck on your socks inside the boots.
    It was the time when it was worthwhile spending five seconds with gravity and bumpy ice because the cost of plodding back to the start again was no more than a cloud of hot breath and a bit of clammy sweat under all those layers of clothes.
    It was so long ago that it was even worth sharing the sledge, although that meant handing it over at the end of the climb and then having to wait while it went all the way to the bottom and your friend took much too long bringing it back up for your turn.
    There were other days, not quite so long ago, when a fall of snow was something to share with little people who had never before felt the bliss of an uncontrollable surge of gravity and were ready to be taught the skills you remembered so well. Perhaps it was a bit soon, but a snowfall is no respecter of age. After ‘Slide down with me,’ they caught on to the idea and crashed to tearful disaster a few times before mastering the art. It was worth going down to pull the sledge up the slope just for them to learn how to enjoy something you needed to teach.
    Now it is the time to stand and watch them taking their own small people to the slope to pass on your old skills. This is evolution and you are content .

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  7. He loves the snow.

    The cold holds no fear for him and he runs outside without the warmth of coat, hat or gloves, grabbing at handfuls of the crystalline whiteness. But unlike his sisters he doesn’t make snowballs, or shout for joy at the snowscape.

    He licks the snow from the door of my car, tasting it as if it were a gourmet meal. He grabs a handful from the roof of the vehicle and runs inside, chuckling. The snow is placed carefully into a bowl and carried proudly to his computer desk, where he returns to the musical games which absorb his attention.

    The girls build a snowman, a stranger who peers in through the patio doors, a ghostly guardian angel hardly noticed by their brother. They lie flat in the snow, moving their arms and legs to leave their own angelic imprints in the crisp surface. They seem self-contained, old beyond their years.

    Inside the snow slowly melts. As the bowl fills, I try to distract his attention, to empty it before it causes damage. He pushes me away and rushes outside again, running right across the precious snow angels, his footprints landing on their immaculate shapes. The girls try hard not to cry, they know he doesn’t understand the impact of his actions.

    He returns to his computer and the newly emptied bowl. With another double handful of snow it is suddenly full again. He puts a little snow into his mouth, pushing it around with his tongue, his teeth seemingly immune to the icy crunch. He rubs a fistful into his face, experiencing how it melts into water. I wonder if he can make the scientific connections, or whether the wiring of his brain is too different to appreciate cause and effect.

    My special snow angel.

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  8. Do you remember the rabbit you had as a child? Flossie or Thumper or Bumper. Something like that. It was a tenth birthday present that you badgered your mother for until they slowly, reluctantly, caved and spent the vast amount of money it cost. You felt cheated then. You’d pointed out the rabbit you wanted in the pet shop, knowing that £15 was a small portion of what she had intended to spend on you and expected to get the new video game system that plugged into the TV set (and maybe a colour TV to plug it into.) What you hadn’t realised that in order to buy you the rabbit she’d also had to buy you the hutch, the food bowls, the hay and the pet care medical insurance. There was no budget for video games left, but she bought you a book.

    Was that what put you off reading? The concept that a book was a poor substitute for what you really wanted? It’s fifteen years since she bought you that book and the only ones I’ve seen you read since were TV tie-ins that furthered the adventures of characters you thought you were in love with. I saw you throw the birthday book out and my heart sank. It was a classic children’s novel read when I was a child, full of allegory that has stayed with me all my life. I tried to talk to you about it once and you told me that if it was that good they’d make a film about it.

    Like the rabbit, that died because of neglect and was buried under the frozen ground of winter, your imagination died because of a video game you didn’t even have. You let the TV do your thinking for you. You still do.

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  9. He loved that. A needy double take, a Muppet-like display, an inappropriate comment followed by a clinical, shuddering knock-back. He glanced at the barman - a Kiwi, standards must be slipping - receiving a conspiratorial rolling of dismissive eyes. Even that was predictable. His eyes must roll as a matter of course. He must roll them in his sleep; wake each morning with RSI of the vitreous humour.

    Not that it was funny.

    Doris crossed his legs and ordered himself another Cinzano and lemonade. His drink aged him, but he couldn't bring himself to slug something from a bottle like the other girls and an alcopop in a glass was verboten. Management claimed it was to reduce their carbon footprint, losing the dishwasher, but then they said a lot of things in the employee magazine, Greasy Pole.

    The funniest article he'd read was the one where they tried to justify the 'Rolling Appointment Strategy'. That was hilarious. According to the 'House Correspondent' everybody within the corporation would now be rotated so that they performed every role for a whole week. Surprisingly, he hadn't had his go in the Chairman's seat yet, and the night shift was yet to see any of The Board shaking their booty.

    Doris raised his foot, the stilettos were killing him. Stretching his legs, he adjusted his position on the bar stool, gyrating shin on calf. He should have shaved, he sounded like a cricket every time he shifted his arse. Still, at least tonight was his final one on the Ladyboy shift, it was accounts from Monday, wiping the pole-dancers pole the following week.

    Not quite what he'd expected when he had joined the pre-takeover company, but he had three more years until his pension and he'd be buggered before he missed out on that.

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  10. The first ridge came up out of your heart and burst into life. I swear I saw fireworks in your eyes; they were so alive and full of sprinklings of stars. Against that white sheet spread like a carpet to Heaven, you seemed so isolated. The crunch and crackling from under your boots was too much. You needed to hear more of it and quicker; ingest more of that untouched air and swallow the Gods’ white freckles falling like they were fighting for your attention. And off you went, bounding as a mountain-goat on hot coals; a madman chasing something only you could see. Springing from one rock to another and laughing. Ah, that laughter rocketing from one wall of the giant’s swell to the next, bouncing in time to the wind and whistling to all the music it brought for you from deep-bellied lands.

    I remember your thick smoke fucking the clouds, the cigarette cherished by bare hands that obviously couldn’t feel anymore. Out there you grew senses like you were a part of it, the elusive organ; your sight sharp like the rim of a freshly opened tin can; your tongue rigid and your taste-buds like pert nipples; your smell of frozen teenage sweat that didn’t offend me; the celebratory wind you passed to make me giggle. Watching you I understood you made contentment up there; boxed it and saved it for rainy days back in the steely morgue of London with all its territorial walls and gravy-thick murmuring.

    Then you sent a text to your mum. Let her know you were on top of the world. And I fell in love with you.

    Driving home in a peace woven from soggy limbs and the Radio 4 news you fell asleep.

    Your snoring and lip-smacking, a rare comfort.



    Tom Whitehead
    bobblinalong@hotmail.co.uk

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  11. In the apology of snow there are no clear statements, only the ambiguity of melting. Whilst sticking resolutely to the facts of light and temperature, it equivocates on colour and intentions. Today it is blue-white, but tomorrow … we’ll see.

    Beneath these transitory blankets, she loses – or gains – shape. Why can’t something, just this one time, be easy to define? A simple statement or a simple outline. A straight tongue that doesn’t slip to ice. She moves like an irregular white pulse, fevered and restless. She cannot settle.

    Outside, flakes drift in tired waves. Since abandoning air’s embrace, they have lost all certainty, become unconvinced by their union with earth, tar and gravel, sceptical of the wisdom of whiteness. They recall water but do not wish to return.

    A thin light makes its perfunctory entrance, not assertive enough to wake her, but bathing her form in a hospital glow. If, at some unspecified time later today, she remembers her dreams, they will lack shape or certainty. There will be something about snow, something about deception, and a sense of something important happening just out of sight. There will be colours, but they will be sly, subtle and shifting before they admit to naming.

    Don’t look outside. Stay here where it is sheltered, if not actually warm. It is not for us to know this day or to judge the truths and lies of snow. Stay here with the shadow and the grudging growing of the light. See, she is waking, like a snow queen slowly unmelting from blankets to bare white flesh.

    Later, when she pulls on her name and warm clothing, she will perhaps clear the path. Or perhaps she will skate across yesterday’s streams. It all depends. For now, she just concentrates hard on trying not to melt.

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  12. Everything I know about the world, I’ve learned from people. I know about the big bang – the starting point as far as we can tell (for now). I know about those atomy particles. I know they formed in the air when the temperature got to a certain point. I know these particles hang together and form irregular clusters. I know we are such irregular clusters, and I know that we scatter, light reflected, to give each other sensation. And I realize that, like snow, this means we lie.

    This is not news – of course not. We would have no need for the phrase ‘to be honest’ if we weren’t, as a species, active liars much of the time – a curse of this mind and free will, I suppose. We’ve already learned to make allowances for this. This is not the point.

    It is the stuff of snow white lies that concerns me – innocent, accidental lies. It is the stuff of physics, of separated experience, of relative perspectives. We are light, traveling at light speed, slowed down by motion in multiple dimensions. It is a lie to consider us in any other way. We are struggling creatures, each in a frustrated attempt to put this mind, this soul, to words, only to have meaning again stripped away and altered through the eyes and ears and hands and hearts of every other. It is a lie to be so sure of yourself. It is a lie to be so sure of another.

    It is the stuff of misunderstandings.

    These lies come to us in abundance, in snow fall – hundreds and thousands of flakes, and each one unique. These lies come to us from people, from ourselves. If everything I know about the world, I’ve learned from people… what then, do I know?

    Alison Baldwin
    alison.baldwin@gmail.com

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  13. We’ve made a pretty good start, he said, as we rolled down the drive at five-thirty on New Year’s Day. We were going to see friends and wanted to avoid the traffic. It was dark and there were white patches of frost in the garden.

    The motorway was busy. Why are all these people up and about, I said, you’d think they’d lie in after last night. About an hour later and travelling in the middle lane at a regular seventy as was his habit, the cars in front of us slowed down very suddenly but those on either side kept on flashing past. Heck, he said, there’s going to be a crash. He stopped the car behind the ones in front of us, but we could hear shattering noises as cars piled up in the other lanes. It was still dark. Get out, he said, and go down that bank. I got out, he got out, and as we dodged over the road, another vehicle crashed into our abandoned car and lifted the back wheels off the road forcing the whole thing onto the cars in front. We ran down the bank and into a field where people were gathering. Voices shouted, the air was icy, and there was the smell of petrol and burning rubber. I was confused and couldn’t remember a thing about what happened next. He said we were taken to a school in the nearby village, given blankets and a hot drink. Eventually we were taken in buses back to Storrington where Eric came to pick us up.

    He had a cricked neck, but I was clinically in shock – cold, sleepy, weepy. When we talked about it much later, he produced his little saying: it’s better to travel hopefully or you’d never travel at all.

    judytattersfield@tiscali.co.uk

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  14. It was grey and overcast. There was a report of a plane crash just north of the city and then a chance of snow. She heard both reports with her eyes closed debating whether to hit the snooze button. It was so grey that she just wanted to sleep but she forced herself out of bed and into the shower.
    Thoughts of the day ahead kept her moving and she pulled on a pair of jeans and the blue sweater he had given her the weekend in the mountains. She looked at herself in the mirror and could almost feel him standing behind her. She brushed the thought away as she brushed her hair. She poured her coffee in her travel mug and as she slipped on her jacket she noticed the blinking light on the answering machine but glanced at her watch and knew she was out of time so headed out the door.
    If possible it was even darker now and the temperature was frigid. She reached in her pockets but of course - no gloves. She started for the bus and as she rounded the corner she saw it pulling away. She was not going to wait for another so she hailed a taxi and headed to her office.
    She reached into her bag, no cellphone it was on the dresser. She settled back in the seat for the 10 minute ride to her office and unbidden thoughts of the week at the beach with him came to mind. She caressed the memory for a few minutes but they were almost to her office and she had no more time for him.
    That of course had been the problem all along. Except for a weekend here and a week there they never had time for each other.


    Gina Benson
    gngbenson@gmail.com

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  15. These are great!

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  16. They certainly are. I don't envy you, Lynne and Sarah, having to make a selection from pieces of this standard.

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  17. Sunshine and solitude go hand in hand. Heat is exhausting, unless you set yourself apart from the crowd and take refuge under a parasol, with only your iced drink and favourite novel for company. Then it's blissful.

    Rain, too, is singular weather. No room for two under this umbrella. Don't try to keep up with me as I run for shelter, roaming rivulets of rainwater sneaking down my neck and flattening my hair against my face. Stay away. You'll only hold me back.

    When the wind howls with raw ferocity, there’s a wonderful peace and security in being wrapped up in a warm blanket on a cosy couch. Outside, it sounds like the world is being ripped apart with savage intensity; inside, I’m cocooned in my own private world. I have no need for company when I hear the gales blow.

    Thunder and lightning are to be observed alone and after midnight, kneeling in wonder in your pyjamas at the bedroom window as you watch God’s divine pyrotechnics in the angry sky. You have to be alone to experience that feeling of sheer smallness – one tiny little atom in a vast and awesome universe.

    But snow…

    Snow is not the stuff of solitude. Snow wants company; it craves attention and participation. Snow demands to be scooped up in gloved hands and thrown at a friend. Its glistening, sparkling blanket of coolness is to be admired by a couple, walking hand-in-hand. The underfoot crunch – crunch – crunch is complemented to perfection by ringing laughter and cheerful words. Snow is synonymous with fun, frivolity, friends. A group of squealing youngsters speed gleefully downhill on a sled; others proudly construct snowmen; the white expanse is scuffed up through intensive fun.

    Nothing is lonelier than a single set of footprints stretching to the grey horizon.

    Hayley Millar
    hippyhails@hotmail.com

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  18. Oh the weather outside is frightening


    Shall I compare thee to a snowy day?
    Thou art more snuggly and more delicate:
    Sleet showers, northerly, veering southerly 3 or 4, increasing 5 to 7, do keep my darling boys at bay,
    And kicking large piles of leaves under the trees in the park hath all too short a date:

    Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
    (well, sometime, though to be honest, usually it’s so cold that Thomas wants his jumper, and his fleece AND his coat and even Edward asks if I know where his gloves are)
    And pretty much every day is his gold complexion dimm’d
    And the washing never dries on the lines
    And the edges of the lawn remain untrimm'd;
    And then the lighting of the lamps.
    God, it’s endless.

    But it’s not all bad news in the bleak mid-November,
    Certainly not for us Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows.
    My darling’s eyes are nothing like the sun;
    And no icicles are actually hanging on the wall;
    (Although there are some birds brooding in the snow).
    So if I make a snowman here
    If I just make a snowman here
    Would you make a snowman with me and just forget the world?

    Moreover, while angry winter shall change its wonted livery,
    Your endless warming love shall not fade
    Nor get soggy and smelly when it precipitation finds,
    Nor shall Ull* brag thou wander'st in his icy shed,
    When in eternal lines to time thou inclines.

    So long as snow falls on the ground and you are in my sight
    So long will I want to take you on in a snowball fight.


    * Ull, the Viking god of winter, a great hunter and also the god of archery, skiing, and, er, death


    alex johnson alex@splashmedia.co.uk

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  19. I sit on my hands. They’re itching to join in, to show him how to do it right. But instead I must watch it collapse again. And again. Sand escapes through his fingers as he scoops it into the Spiderman bucket. Too soft sand. The kind that won’t stick together, that spreads like water as soon as it’s tipped upside down.

    I count the seagulls overhead, the salt-washed pebbles under my fingers, but the itch is too great. He refuses to listen to advice, tells me to go ‘way, he doesn’t need my help. So I retreat.

    I remember damp grains jamming under my fingernails as I rushed to build towers before the tide washed them away.
    I remember digging tunnels from one hand to the other until my fingers met. My sandy hands feeling like they belonged to someone else.

    Grains of sand crunch between my teeth.

    I remember.

    Coarse and gritty, they flavoured everything. The warm orange squash that crunched as the lid was tightened. Sweaty jam sandwiches with their special summer holiday taste.

    Except now its not orange squash and jam sandwiches. It’s spicy pasta salad from Sainsbury’s, whilst I watch him struggle. The sauce stings my salt-chapped lips.

    The wind has arrived. Whipping the sand into spirals; mini tornadoes on the surface of the beach, twisting through the failed sandcastles. He lifts his hand to brush hair from his eyes, sand encrusted fingers brush his eyelids and he blinks. And he blinks. Even at this distance I can feel his eyes water.

    His screwed up face searches in my direction, at last I am needed. I am across the sand before I’ve taken a breath, water bottle and towel in hand, ready to clear the sand from his eyes. Ready to help him see me again.

    Nicky Gould
    Nicky@sharra.plus.com

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  20. I get ice direct from my fridge. You put your glass in a cubby hole on the outside, and press it against a pad at the back, and ice tumbles down. You can even choose whether you want cubes or crushed by pressing a little button. If you choose crushed, the fridge makes a scary grinding noise before spewing out the ice.

    It’s great in the summer. Ice on tap, so to speak, all year round.

    Years ago they had to cut blocks of ice from frozen ponds and store it in ice houses. I guess they wrapped it in sacking or something, to keep it – what? Cool? Clean? You’d send your man-servant down to the ice house, to chip a piece off the block, so you could get your gin-and-tonic to clink in the glass the way it’s supposed to.

    I wonder how the servant would clean the ice before adding it to the drinks. Wipe it with a rag? Put it in a basin of water and scrub the outer layer off? Blast it quickly with a blow-torch? Ah no. They didn’t have blow-torches in those days. Wake up missus.

    Anyway, the point is you’d have to be rich to have ice in your drinks. Rich enough to build an ice-house and have somewhere to put it. Rich enough to employ a man-servant. Rich enough to afford gin-and-tonics.

    If you had a man-servant now, would you send him to the kitchen to fetch your ice? Oh Mellors, there’s a good chap. Just bring me a gin-and-tonic, ice and a slice. That’s the ticket old chum.

    I’ve no man-servant. Come to think of it, I’ve no man either. Just the fridge and me. It’s a cold and lonely existence, but at least my drinks clink, even on their own.



    kath.mcgurl (at) ntlworld.com

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  21. Though she was impatient and I could smell booze on her breath whenever she crouched down to yank the fastenings tight on my boots, and I knew that mum would not approve, I idolised Sabine. Sabine with her bright red ski suit and film star hair. Being one of the eldest I could tell she was bored with our group’s five-to-ten-year-old company and even worse, resented having to repeat everything for us, the two English-speaking sisters.

    The day it happened Sabine hastily repeated her warnings about the streams that criss-crossed the melting snow. Under other circumstances her clacking English would have made us giggle together. “Yezz?” she barked when she had finished. “Yes, yes,” I nodded as bright and pretty as I could. You looked up at me, unsure, as we set off across the twinkling snow. “Don’t slow down, just keep going or you’ll fall in,” I hissed, praying we’d keep up with everyone for once.

    I skimmed neatly over the first stream, hoping Sabine had seen me. She hadn’t. Of course, you hesitated. I watched in horror as you tried to clamber across before slowly slip-sliding into the freezing water. Sabine muttered foreign swear words and I turned pink with shame as she pulled you, crying and already blue, from the water. I started snickering with the others but Sabine cut us short with a word that sounded like a pick striking ice. We weren’t far from the village and she instructed me to take you back to our hotel. We trudged back across the hateful snow in silence.

    That day was the beginning of this vast crevasse that exists between us now. I realised too late that sisterhood isn’t a given. I’ve been looking for years but I can’t find a bridge back to you.

    claudia@myzen.pelagos.co.uk

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  22. Snow lies, but it's fair enough to say that it seldom lies. You want it to lie, you wait for it to lay, but when it comes to the crunch there is no crunch - just a few patches of sloppy brown slush. There is no white Christmas, no cosy white blanket, just delayed trains, slippery surfaces and twisted ankles.

    There was never a snow bunny. I mean, there was a bunny and there was a little snow, but it was really more of a patched up rabbit corpse that we covered in the bits of ice that we found on car windscreens and in the creases of curbs. We were fooling ourselves, giggling over a covered corpse, then mortified as we watched the blood reach the surface. We kept trying to cover it back up, but it always resurfaced.

    It reminded me of being a teenager, syphoning whiskey from the top of the french dresser and ever so carefully topping it up with water, feeling so clever until I heard the boom of my mum's voice weeks later from the bottom of the stairs - it always separated in the end, my guilt always surfaced. Our wound could not be covered.

    So it is with me now. I don't want it to snow; not with the snow I've always known. The half-hearted covering, to a merely inconvenient end. No no no, if it snows again let it keep on falling, let it have it's way. Let it's drifty nonchalance be a final desolation, an end to our guilt and separation. Let it lie. Up to the curb, covering cars, to the top of the hedges to the tips of the roofs. Let it stretch out over us - a clear and sparkling surface.

    Rebecca Gower
    rebeccagower@yahoo.com

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  23. A year ago you turned over on your side and died. Without fuss, quietly, just as you had lived. You made it seem so simple. Did you know at that moment that you were taking half of me with you? Was that what you meant when you said you couldn’t live without me? So here I am, the half you left behind, minus your logic, your wisdom, but sustained by your love.

    Strange that nothing changes, seasons pass; the huge magnolia you planted bloomed again on your birthday and our Wedding Anniversary in April, perfect, poignant, more beautiful than ever. Only the garden manifests grief, your vegetable patches neglected. The Bramley weeps rotten apples. I empty barrow loads on the compost heap.

    My eyes fill when I look through your desk, find your wartime logbooks, Met. briefings to pilots. I put them back where I find them. Drawers full of recent weather maps, great volumes of obsolete Law Acts, Mathematics; facts not fiction, you are etched in the contents of your bookshelves, your old school reports.

    The car shows all too clearly my sole ownership now; large dents incurred backing out of the garage, – you always got the car out for me. Thankfully you loved driving,
    never wanted me to share it, enjoyed planning long trips to visit the children that now I undertake via British Rail. I needed to look at maps upside down to make them work.

    They tell me I’m doing well. Like an amputee learning to walk again. Even laughter comes spontaneously some days. Without our children’s love and support, I would surely stumble and fall.

    Of course I’ll never be whole again; there will always be only half of me. The wound will heal eventually but the scars of severance are deep and will remain.
    Mary Rose
    mrrawlinson@btinternet.com

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  24. The Inuit have one hundred words for snow. In another idle moment, she’d once trawled the internet to find them, stumbled instead upon a raft of pseudo-academics refuting the assertion, dismissing it as urban myth. But the list of words was there alright, maybe not a hundred, but many nonetheless. Beautiful words. Like nylaipin for the snows of yesteryear, or dinliltia for the little balls that cling to Husky fur.

    And why should it be surprising? Snow, after all, was their entire world. It formed the roads they walked on, the houses where they lived; it was their source of water, the packaging and cold-store for every food they ate.

    Wiping condensation from the carriage-window of the stationary train, she perused the canopies of oranges and flame, vibrant against the dismal autumn sky. What entity defined her world so totally? Leaves on the line could hardly constitute, despite their stranglehold on the commuter. What type, she mused, might be today’s ‘wrong kind?’ Those ubiquitous dry brown ones, paper thin, that whirlpooled round the park, or banked in rustling piles along the street; the ones she used to kick into the air with knee-socked legs and patent-leather shoes. Brackles she would call them then. Or maybe they were flambers, red Maple, flexing in her childhood palm like burnished tiger’s paws.

    But nothing was pervasive in the way that snow was for the Eskimo. Not leaves, nor rain, nor wind. Not work…or crime… or sport… or television. Money, maybe? Filthy lucre? The lure of bucks and yen. So hard to concentrate in this charged atmosphere, with the impatient sighs and angry clucks of fellow passengers. Of course, she should have thought of it before. Still she’d found her fifty-seventh word for ‘grumble’ by the time they’d scraped the smulchies from the track.



    Kay.thedawsons@btopenworld.com

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  25. The first time you saw snow, you wondered where everything had gone. As if it hadn't been confusing enough to spend most of the year believing that leaves were green, only for them suddenly to turn brown and then fall off, now you looked out of the window and saw the world replaced with this strange white expanse. It wasn't until you talked to your mother that you realised that something had actually been added to the view, rather than most of it being taken away. It's snow, she said. Like rain, only frozen. But how coud that be, when rain dripped from the sky rather than covering everything like this stuff? You asked to go outside to look at it.

    You did not understand why you had to get dressed up in hat, scarf, gloves and all the rest just to go outside for a few steps, though you did notice the air was much colder by your face than around the rest of your body. You nearly fell over at first when, unexpectedly, your foot sank through the white carpet with a crunching sound. It took a few steps to find your balance; once you had, you looked back to see the line of holes made by your feet. What was this 'snow' that just appeared and disappeared like that?

    Carefully, you pulled off a glove and reached down to touch the snow. You cried out at the cold, wet sensation and your mother hurried over, telling you to put the glove back on. She showed you how to form the snow into a ball and throw it. You copied her and threw one back. And so on.

    A few days later, you would wonder where all the snow had gone, and why the world played such tricks.

    dhreviews 'at' yahoo 'dot' co 'dot' uk

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  26. You look out of the window, not even crying as the snow falls. He has done this to you. He has arrested your adulthood and whirled you back to being a tobogganing child.

    When he shouts he reminds you of your father – and that’s why you’ve always been scared of people who shout. Snow muffles the shouting, it swallows the sound. But still it contracts in your belly, sucking a blizzard into a drift and covering your inner soul. When was that cold winter? The one when we crept down the stairs and out to the car, slippers soggy on our feet as we crossed the alien moonscape of the driveway. I can’t remember, and I suspect you can’t either.

    This is serious snow! This snow means business. Huge fluffy flakes fall, heavy yet feather light at the same time. The snow flakes fall together, yet spaced widely apart. Each flake wants to keep its own little space in the sky. If another flake comes too near: it will jostle it away with its elbows. And still they come! Big bruisers of flakes; cotton wool ball flakes; twirly ballerina flakes.

    As you watch, the flakes develop characters of their own as they dance around each other. Fascinated, you watch as two snowy creatures dance a perfect duet. Falling, falling and pirouetting all the way. Two lovers – melting into each other. Stark geometric perfection blurring and creating a new kaleidoscopic reality.

    And still that ice shard pierces your soul. The heat of your heart should have melted it by now – but, but … it hasn’t.

    You look at the window. Your reflection distorted by condensation tears. Your eyes snow-blinded, your soul freeze-dried. Whatever he does, you love him and will not let him go.

    The snowman laughs behind his snow hand.

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  27. It was because of this that you made the final pilgrimage, two days travelling in conditions that got steadily worse. That's the thing about mountains, the closer you get the worse it is.
    The car, a seedy hotel room filling with the detritus of travel, its a cold, old, sorry machine, complaining the whole trip.
    Still you draw closer, and seeing distant white you think back, was it only twice? He spoke of snow every winter, and now, the sight of snow is tied to him, looking more and more like the thin crust melting, the gravel showing through.
    Foothills, drifts of snow in gullies and on high places, strong black coffee. Frost inside as well as outside the car and the roads are edged with red and white poles. Is this the reality? Snow, not the imagined but real, full. A whiteness spreading from the horizon to meet you as time shortens, tired eyes, cold everywhere. Stop here, get the coolbox out, fill it with this real snow, pack it gently so as not to disturb its gentle patterns. And turn around, three days, it can be done.
    Mountain passes, towns, the stares of others who see your condition. Just keep going, keep going, with bad coffee, bad food and bad sleep, across half a continent, across a sea, back to where it started, to a street that has only seen snow twice in a lifetime. Back to him.
    Family watch as you take the coolbox upstairs, whispers. The room is dark, stifling despite the chill spring.
    “He can't hear you, he's just a shell now dear”
    she means to be kind but its not true, taking his hand you open the coolbox and place it into the coolness inside.

    A sigh, the slightest crunch from the snow, silence.

    Jim Barron
    jimbarron@walkauvergne.co.uk

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  28. The snow-rabbits were different from the real ones who had disappeared much more quickly. The first one had icy blue eyes, the second a milky red colour but bother had a power-white coat. They lived for eight days. Each one went back to the pet shop and the man just shrugged and gave you another and another until the procession was over at a count of six dead rabbits. The last one, a black and white dutch, he wrapped in newspaper and dumped on the shop’s doorstep with tears in his eyes.

    He knew that you really wanted a dog but with no one at home in the day, it was never even up for discussion. The rabbit was a replacement dog and when you finally got Snow White from another pet shop, he was nurtured into very dog-like behaviour, living mostly in the house, biting ankles and growling. Yes, ‘he’ – do you remember? Three months after you got him, Snow White grew testicles and was renamed Mr Rabbit. Mr Rabbit was eventually to get a Mrs Rabbit (Florence) and we all know how rabbits breed.
    You never discussed the mechanics of breeding, he wanted to keep you as his little girl although he had unwittingly trained you to like what boys liked by spending so much time with you; this made it much easier for you to slip into a casual conversation with boys about model aeroplanes, cars, motorbike engines. You had an edge. But edginess became the order of things and you started to make your own tracks in the snow and the rage that he felt when he found you dismantling a carburettor in the living room was probably less over the dirt and the petrol fumes and more because you were doing it without him.

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  30. One morning you awoke to find that it had suddenly arrived, fluttering softly whilst you were unaware. It came unannounced and was unwelcome. You could hear its silence seeping through into your consciousness, the brilliance of its light forcing your eyelids open. Your heart sank and the heavy ache returned. Today was going to be a day of sadness and remembrance. Then you looked out of the window. It was so serene and beautiful it took your breath away. You were suddenly overcome by a child-like excitement that made you rush out in your dressing gown and boots to explore this new world, better dressed than you in its winter-best coat of glory. You raised your face to the sky and wondered why the falling snowflakes looked darker from below; then you hummed The Blue Danube out loud, why, you still don't know, but you danced a waltz as you hummed, making untidy tracks in the snow. The snow lost its virginity in that dance, but you didn't mind. Your heart felt as light as a snowflake and you knew that it was inviting you to have fun again. Permission now granted.

    You stood under the apple tree where once you had both lain. You reached up, closing your eyes in anticipation, and pulled heavily on one of the lower boughs. The sudden onslaught of snow made you squeal with delight, and you shook it off like an animated snow-rabbit before rushing indoors to get dry.

    You knew it would end - the snow, and the cold heartache. But you also knew that you wouldn't dread the coming of the snow again, and that when it was time for it to go it would gradually melt, leaving behind a host of joyfully shared experiences, preparing you for a new, warmer beginning.

    From: Yvonne Moxley
    Email: y.moxley@btinternet.com

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  31. You have never really recovered from that absence, the space that could never be filled. Snow fills you with a quiet stillness even when your mouth smiles for the children, you laugh but not from your spirit.

    I have known this and my heart has been tight in my chest thinking of you trying to deal with it, but the years have made it less hard to bear for us both. That distance from the day does not lesson any emotions but it does muffle the pain and quieten it – like the snow on that road, before the swift thaw.

    Neither one of us saw it coming, and when it was gone so was the light in his beautiful young eyes. I remember your face, disbelief and lack of comprehension, for it had been so quick. The suddenness, the noise – horrendous, frightening, then gone - and only silence, as if it had never been. Nothing was ever the same again.

    I see it all behind your eyes if we are together when whiteness covers the world. No escaping except into a book in front of the fire or bed for long hours. Lately, I have heard you speak his words to the children explaining its properties and magic, strangely bringing this mysterious person to life for them.

    Now they are old enough and understand their need for each other, that bond, they can at last imagine your loss and suffer your pain from it too. I wonder if this will finally release that memory locked into the snow rabbit all those years ago. Sharing with your own flesh, that special love reserved for a hero who can never be vanquished, never slip from any pedestal, worshipped, as only an elder brother can be, by a smaller a much-loved sibling.


    Jane redjane77@hotmail.com

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  33. “Billy!” Mom screeched from downstairs. A kennel of cats in heat would have sounded more soothing. “Go shovel the drive. Your dad’ll be home soon.”

    “He’s not my dad.” I cranked up the stereo and packed my one-hitter. My new Kansas album reminded me, the wayward son, to carry on.

    Fuck the snow. And fuck Missouri. We should be home in San Diego, not in this hick town, living in her redneck husband’s dead mother’s suburban tract house. I should be in the sun, with my friends — not being harassed into freezing my nuts off doing manual labor. Labor which, I might add, could’ve easily been pawned off to one of the industrious neighborhood yokels. Look at them, wandering around in pairs in trios, shovels and brooms propped up on their shoulders. Do-gooders playing soldier for pocket change.

    I heard Mom cough as she padded towards my room. Crap. She usually stayed downstairs keeping tabs on General Hospital. I cracked my window.

    “Billy, honey. Can’t you please clear the driveway before Dwayne gets …” she stopped mid-sentence. “Are you smoking grass?” She’d caught me on my bed, staring at the framed photo of Dad. In his Marine Corps dress blues. The one we’d sat on his casket.

    “No ma, it’s just some incense.” I’d been moaning about the smell of moth balls for weeks, so I guess she bought it.

    “Sorry, didn’t mean to bother you.”

    Twenty minutes later I heard the scraping of a snow shovel, like nails on a frozen chalkboard. I pull back my curtain to check which dweeb she’s hired.

    “Dammit, mom.” She’s outside, struggling with the shovel, cleaning up nature’s mess for precious Dwayne.

    I try to rise above the noise and confusion, set Dad on my pillow, and pull my boots on.

    bob [at] bobzyeruncle [dot] com

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  34. jan fortune-wood1 November 2007 at 23:55

    You are right, of course. Whenever I picture him now it is not the glint of green in his eyes or the slow curl of his mouth when he smiled that I remember, but the long length of his body huddled into the course black stuff of an ancient donkey jacket; the scuffed brown hiking boots, with that scar from descending a scree slope in the Cairngorms the year that we met. How he deliberately planted a track for me to follow in.

    You are right, of course. I don’t want to bestow the snow with symbolic significance. And yet I can’t help thinking about how the light changed, how the air took on that cold metallic taste; the same taste that he complained of when he began taking the morphine.

    He taught me everything I know about morphine. I know it is named after Morpheus, the god of dreams, who was the son of Hypnos, the god of sleep; that is the most prominent and powerful of the twenty-four different alkaloids that make up opium. I know that it was isolated in 1803, but that the chemical structure remained a mystery until 1925. I can draw it’s shape, its bonds, even write out its formula: C17H19NO3 . I know that it is white, like snow; that it changes the light; that it presents the mind with countless modifications of perception. That it is a narcotic which numbs the senses, reduces pain, and induces sleep. That this means that morphine lies, like snow.

    Yes, whenever I think of him now I think about snow. The sight of his retreating back, his footsteps getting harder to follow, even as he lay still, even though he was only semi-conscious. How for weeks I watched his slow escape as though he would melt.

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  35. You told me I just had to believe in myself. You said it was about moving forward, trying new things. And I did, move forward that is, for a few short moments, at speed, downhill, gliding too quickly, treachourously, until out of control I collided with black branches strewn precariously along the edges of the run.

    As I lay, an unlikely angel, in deep drifted powdered snow, the warm fuzziness I felt for you the previous evening as we shared a post coital hot chocolate, crystalised into iced shards that lodged themselves beind my ribcage somewhere on the left-hand side.

    Don't think I didn't see your smugness as I stood paralysed with fear at the top of the mountain, Don't think I didn't note your patronising tone as you tried to convince me you'd enjoy spending the day on the lower slopes?

    I'm aware of pain in varying degrees - shoulder, elbow, knee and especially my ankle, which, I fear may be fractured. But even through the pain, I draw some small pleasure from watching you push off slowly down the slope to retrieve my ski, which has snapped itself free, proving itself better at the descent than me. I watch as you edge your way back up, awkwardly, and I grunt at the realisation you must stay with me until I'm safely off the mountain. Most of the day will have gone and you'll have no chance to go off piste and I can tell you're silently pissed off. I observe your careful performance as you smile through gritted teeth.

    We both know there is more than an ankle broken here and as the red suited men in the skiddoo come to carry me off the mountain, I am relieved not to have to believe in myself any more.

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  37. I check your pulse while you sleep. Press two fingers on the inside of your wrist. Nothing. Press two fingers on the side of your neck, push the soft skin under your rocked jaw. There it is.

    Startled awake, you snap, "What the hell are you doing?"

    The alarm clock blinks its bloodshot eyes. 3:49 AM. "Just making sure you're still alive," I say.

    You roll over and leave me cold. You're greedy with your body heat. I nudge my knees into the backs of yours and clamp my arm around your stomach. I'm always the big spoon.

    I'm also the world's first cold-blooded human being. At my core, where my heart should be, is a snowball. Someone whipped it through my chest when I was young and it got lodged. It leaked glacial water through my veins. My baby teeth fell out and icicles grew. Inside, every day is winter.

    And you haven't warmed up to me. We've been slipping under the same duvet for a year and you still seem fearful of frostbite. Each night, you open our bedroom window and blast the oscillating fan to keep cool. You could just touch me. Rather, you arm yourself in flannel, as if my chill is contagious. As if you've never stripped off all of your clothes in a January blizzard, ran to the tallest snow drift in your backyard and slammed yourself into it, flailing your arms and legs until the most perfect, symmetrical snow angel appeared.

    Maybe that's just me.

    At 6 AM, that evil alarm clock bitches at us. At breakfast, you ask me to please stop checking your pulse in the middle of the night. "It's freaking me out," you say, pouring dry cereal into a bowl.

    "Sorry." I crunch down on a cube of ice.


    Bill Trüb
    welshwordsmith@yahoo.co.uk

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  38. As white as…

    The linen napkin you use to dab away the chocolate mousse at the corners of your mouth

    The edges of your widened eyes as they respond to my offer to lick it off instead

    The cab we giggle in the back of as it takes us back to yours

    The tips of the nervous waves that rise and fall in my stomach as the key turns in your lock

    The stripe of powder on your coffee table that you neatly hoover up with your nose

    Your delicate hand, as it takes mine and leads me up the stairs

    The crisp pillow that my head sinks into while I wait

    The tee lights which flicker by the bed

    The fear that flashes through me when you lean across and reach for my ringing phone

    My face when you answer and greet my wife like an old friend

    The lies you tell

    The band of your smile contrasted against the deep plum of your lips as you hang up

    Your proclaimed innocence, no harm done

    The ends of your nails as they dance across my skin

    The smooth spots of your body that you’ve kept hidden from the sun’s bronzing glare

    The noise I hear when you perch on top of me

    The trace of regret I try to wash away in your bathroom as I splash my face with water

    The satin bathrobe that you slide into and wrap around your curves

    My shirt, now crumpled, buttoned up again sealing me in

    The soles of your feet as you walk down the stairs

    The milk you pour into my sobering coffee

    The door you lean against as you wave me off into the dawn

    The piece of paper that you secretly slip into my pocket to betray me

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  39. There’s been an isolated fall of snow on the pantiles in Tunbridge Wells. It lies on the roof of the bandstand, frosts a group of small trees whose leaves still cling to their branches and covers three new cars parked in a row where cars don’t normally go.

    It’s just warm enough this evening to stand outside sipping a glass of resinous white wine, watching snowflakes glimmering in the powerful light that floods this limited skyline, as they drift through the trees towards us.

    Whenever there’s a call to action the snow begins to fall. Pairs of schoolchildren crocodile their way around the bandstand to listen to the trumpets and singers miming carols. People with shopping bags scurry past, muffled in scarves and fur lined boots, but not tensed against the cold. Some stroll arm in arm lost in conversation. A woman in an open-collared shirt should be shivering.

    By the side of the bandstand, its branches weighted with snow, a christmas tree glows with multicoloured globes. Two boys dodge between the cars, scoop up handfuls of snow into balls. A dog called Pig because of its tail leaves the scene to sniff out the local talent, our terrier and a Westie, who’ve locked paws around each other’s neck and are prancing about on their hind legs.

    This strange synthetic winter is strangely comforting, and for a while we suspend our disbelief to enjoy a Christmas card fantasy we all wish would occasionally come true.

    The following day the snow, hosed into one-foot drifts, looks convincingly grimy, as if ploughed and left in a slow thaw at the side of a busy road. We drink a Belgian chocolate bar and eat a mince pie while the rumoured but unseen celebrities wait to do their stuff inside a black canvas cube.

    Sandy Andrews sandra.andrews@blueyonder.co.uk

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  40. There is a woman in front of you. She is holding a book in her hands. She has bad hair, sloppy make up and is wearing a pink knitted cap. It looks like a tea cozy and you imagine steam coming out of her ears.

    She hands you the book. “How much please?” she says. Her accent is thick, perhaps Russian. You take the book from her and scan it, the beep sounding innocent until the price rings up on your screen.

    “Nineteen ninety five.” You say.

    “Oh!” the woman puts a hand to her throat. “That is much for a book!”

    You nod, smiling, keeping an eye on the line forming behind her. Looking down at the book, you see it’s about snowflakes. “Symbols of Power Found In Snow.” The title reads.

    “But I must have the book,” she says. “It is important. Look at this.” She takes the book back and flips to a page showing a hexagon shape. The snowflake has been magnified a zillion times and underneath the picture it reads: This talisman represents danger. The red writing looks like a warning.

    “I found this today.” The woman says and she takes a metal plate out of her purse. She holds it with a cloth. “I can’t touch it, there is bad energy coming from it, you see?” She looks at you. “You DO see, don’ you? You know what I am saying? I must have this book. It is my only help to me.”

    You nod, taking sixty percent off the price. She is overjoyed. “You have saved life of mine.” She says and gives you her card. “You call me? We have much to discuss.”

    You do not know your life has just changed drastically. She smiles, teeth showing. “Much to discuss,” she says.



    Jamieson Wolf
    jamiesonwolf@gmail.com

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  41. These days the snow refuses to melt. And when you walk across the crusty whiteness, you leave no footprints. It is not that you are carried by Jesus, as the poem suggests he carries one across the quicksands, snowstorms and other rocky terrain. No, there are no footprints because you have become weightless, insubstantial. You only know you still exist because you can feel the snow's cold wetness. And because you have memories.

    It is not just the snow-rabbit you made with him. You remember playing snowballs with your sister as a child, how too much pressure compacted the fluffiness into an icy ball, how you cried at the thwack of its hardness hitting your cheek.

    Over the past twelve months, you have learned a lot about ice: not the physics of it but the feel of it. Your new artist friend has shown you how to watch it, handle it, sculpt it. He teaches you too that everything is symbolic. It is not the studied, scientific, physical nature of snow that matters but your experience of it. What's more, it is a lie to say its whiteness is a lie. If it looks white and it feels white, that is enough.

    But is that enough? It still doesn't explain what snow is, what it means. It may not lie, but it is not pretty or kind either. It is damp, uncomfortable and unpredictable, suffocating the ground with its whiteness that may or may not really be white.

    Still, you learn to follow new fingers, to chisel ice's coldness into the beauty of swans and flowers, to preserve the perfection as long as possible before it melts. But, secretly, this is the part that you enjoy the most: that graceful slipping from its solid form into liquid; free and flowing.


    Sarah James lifeislikeacherrytree@yahoo.com

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  42. Gina sat rigidly at the plastic table, inhaling deeply from the cigarette as her frustration threatened to boil into unbridled anger. It always happened like this. One lousy clue left to complete the daily crossword, and, as usual, she couldn't get it.

    "Turbulent body..." she hissed, "...nine letters."

    She took another deep satisfying lungful on the unfiltered cancer stick, kissing the palm of her hand in the process. It should have been extinguished at least two drags ago, but Gina believed in utilising every last gram of weed available. The wafer thin paper crackled noisily as the red hot tip burned, threatening to singe her nicotine stained knuckles.

    "Something a, something l, something t, something o, something."

    Raymond knew her sudden, angst filled sharing of the issue indicated he was obliged to respond, yet recognised his involvement would make things worse. He anchored himself at the sink, taking an even greater interest in the washing up than was necessary, before speaking.

    "Repeat the clue again, I wasn't listening." Playing for time was always the best way to cope, even if only a precious few seconds were purchased, because sometimes she got it herself.

    "What difference will it make? It will still be the same, so it won't help, will it?" She finally pulverised the cigarette remnants into an overflowing ashtray before her. A small plume of crushed ash billowed north from her fingers, adding to the yellowing fog hugging all contours of the small kitchen.

    "How many letters again?" He turned to face her simmering form, observing the earthbound return of the ash cloud, a tiny storm of burning snow, powdering her newspaper, further raising her hackles.

    "Maelstrom..." he muttred, looking to the floor for solace, waiting for the now routine eruption.

    A better clue would have been "Raymond's Life".

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  45. Snow capped Mountains, skating on the snow, as white as snow, these are all terms which
    We have learnt in schools and only a very few of us would have realized the connotation of the
    word snow; you ask me to describe and define the vessel or the bowl in which a piece of snow
    flake is kept I would unmistakably succeed in defining the former but fumble in describing the
    snow flake.
    Yet You believe me or not, somehow snow has some mesmerising effect on us. The mainstream of
    Poets have woven into the fabric of their poetic aura, the imagery and metaphor of snow.
    “ as pure as snow”, “as white as snow”, as hard as snow flake, it is admirable from the poet’s
    Point of view. Nevertheless when it loses its charm , when thaws into fluidity, just as an
    Unpromising lover’s deserting his paramour, violating his promises, vows.
    When I was making a pilgrimage to Banaras in India, the real life like conversation of two lovers unaware of the surroundings which almost was an exchange of words of
    Anger and frustration on both the sides. In an unusual way the girl was wanting to Postpone the marriage and the boy was just the opposite and conscience abiding looks like that. In the moving train their disadvantage was an impetus for me to write a poem
    which I hurriedly scribbled down, imagine it was moving train, she being relentless.
    “ Just now I see your rocky heart,
    Thaw less by my kind words,
    I saw your pure, innocent
    As snow as white face only,
    At least snow melts,
    Yours molten rock,
    Go to Himalayas.”
    I wish there is transparency in the hearts of people as there is in sea, water, sky, snow
    and snowing where I live.
    Radhamani
    poet_radhamani@yahoo.com
    pearlradhe.blogspot.com

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