8 February 2012

Quiz: What Kind of Snow Person Are You?

Which of the following three statements (the first lines of novels that may never be written) most accurately sums up your own attitude towards snow? 

  1. Snow fell overnight, stitching up the town, zipping it shut like a hand over a mouth.  Snow wiped the slate clean, smoothed over all mistakes.   

  1. Snow deposited an impossible burden on the buckling branches of the ailing beech tree, and brought the world to a juddering stop.  It spread relentlessly down the street and into the churchyard,  where only the gravestones had the nerve to poke through.

  1. The snow was a yielding bed – soft and tickly like the feathers that had blown into the breeze the day she shook out the heirloom eiderdown.

You’ll find a psychological interpretation for your choice at the bottom of this blog.

Having grown up in Ottawa, Canada, where winters didn’t even bother to bare their teeth before grabbing you savagely by the short and curlies, my first years in England were marked by confusion.  Was this October?  Was this April?  Maybe it was February.  Who knew. 

Since then, I have grown to celebrate the more subtle gradations between the seasons here in the southeast and tolerate the absence of anything that could call itself winter.  And in these recent days, as snow has swept across Europe and temperatures have plunged, I’m pleased to say that we too experienced a dusting of the white stuff last weekend.  OK, it may have only lasted 24 hours, but it was a start.

In my childhood one time, when freezing rain fell on top of a thick layer of snow and turned the outdoors into a giant rink, I skated into the woods behind my house – twirling through and around the trees during a spell-binding afternoon.  That memory became the inspiration for the following poem, first published in Ambit magazine.



Overnight the snow has hardened to ice,
has crusted the field where yesterday
we lay making the shapes of angels.

I leave cornflakes untouched, search the attic
for old skates whose toes are stuffed
with crinkled headlines from ancient papers,

glide across the backyard
past the derelict barn, amongst trees
that have been stripped of all logical thought,

over the highway and into a whiteout
of slippages and crossed lines,
teepees, tents and medieval fairs.

My cheeks are pocked with frostbite.
I know the chill diplomacy of kings.
I beg for morsels of suckling pig

though something wiry and untamed
has beaten me to the feast,
see: it has devoured both flanks.

Beneath my blades the ground keeps its counsel,
too withdrawn for resolutions, too frozen for burials.
I will skate

until my gut feels a kick of green shoots,
until the melt exposes winter debris
to new air.

© Katie Griffiths

Check out Ambit magazine here: http://www.ambitmagazine.co.uk/
And take a look at the Poetry Library site.  It has info on magazines (online and print), poem competitions and events. http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/

What Kind of Snow Person Are You?

If you chose A:
You have a rumbling guilt complex that is manifesting itself in the weather.  Precipitation holds no answers.   Seek therapy.

If you chose B: 
There is clearly no fun in your life.  Go on!  Get out there!  Build an igloo!  Move in!

If you chose C: 
You are an incorrigible romantic, and I think we should meet up.  I’ll make the hot chocolate.

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