Even here, even amongst there hostile presences, and in this arranged light, he could see the snow, he could hear it… “Ah, but just wait! Wait till we are alone together! Then I will begin to tell you something new! Something white! something cold! something sleepy! something of cease, and peace, and the long bright curve of space!”
(Silent Snow, Secret Snow, Conrad Aiken)
Late Spring he becomes preoccupied, slides off.
Into gathering ether, to winter thoughts.
His flurries now lining the emerald lawns.
White erases the baseball field, smoothes the rabbitchewed park.
What matters most to him is the way his new drifts
silence the approaching postman. He is faceless, horrid.
Made of bones. But now he struggles through the drifts and comes
blank like a page. The relief of it, quiet. No cars, dogs.
Whirring chukking sprinklers buried and dead.
His mother drives him to the craft store for his science diorama.
He chooses sheets of cellophane, glassine, for the gelid
hoarfrosts and rime. His father kneels beside him on the den floor,
pipemouthed. Gamely rubs his shoulder. Suggests summer
trips to roller coaster taffy parks, to boats on blue lakes.
To the sea. The boy can think only one direction: North.
Wind, firn. The deep freeze of him dreams only
of a blinding white filling his mouth and eyes.
In class he looks out past the window and tries to summon snow.
His teacher selects him, thinking him lost. He rises tiredly from his seat,
eyes still off in ice. Yes, he says slowly, it was what we now call the Hudson River.
He thought it to be the Northwest Passage.
He was disappointed.