Dear Lily June,
I usually hate winter. Between the bite of the wind and the sting of the snow smacking into my eyes, I generally harbor dreams of hibernation from late November until at least early April.
Everything in the past felt somehow sharper to me in winter, like Charles Simic’s lines in the poem “Errata“–
“Where it says snow
read teeth-marks of a virgin
Where it says knife read
you passed through my bones
like a police-whistle”
–as if I had a visceral sense of being gnawed on or stabbed at by the cutting cold, the ominous icicles.
And yet, in this, a year seemingly without a winter in the Midwest, I find myself longing even for the harsher side of the already brutal months.
I find myself remembering how fights would always erupt between a past boyfriend and I in this season. How his car had broken once and was leaking fumes into the body, so we couldn’t close the windows even at the coldest times. How, once, we got into an argument while the car filled up with flakes as we drove along a highway trying to get somewhere with warm coffee. I don’t remember what we argued over. I just remember how, with the snow falling inside, it felt as if the weather were urging us to quiet our hearts, to calm our tempers, to hush, to hush, to hush.
And how, another year, with another year’s fight still hanging in the air, the snow was so bad his car couldn’t make it down the long sloping hill to where I lived. And how he had to park a mile away and trudge by foot through the bitter blizzard just to wrap me up in the apology he had crafted along the walk. And how the white that fell around us felt like the color of redemption…
And there were better times just last winter with the love of my life, your father. I was pregnant then, just cresting through the second trimester with you, and the ice spreading over the roadsides felt so threatening to your unborn body. And there was your father, offering out his hand any time I had to cross a parking lot, climb into a car. He would yell out “wait for me!” and wouldn’t let me walk unassisted even once, knowing my belly was growing into your swollen home.
He held my hand so many times last winter to escort me past any danger, I don’t remember if I ever wore a glove…
So this year, I find myself anxiously awaiting the snowfall that, mid-December, has still yet to come. I find myself thinking not of Simic’s virgin’s bite, but cummings’ speaker in “[somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond]” who proudly proclaims to a lover
“or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending…”
I find myself wanting to see you, my little angel, make a snow angel, fill the white world with the rosy color of your cheeks, the shocking chameleon colors of your eyes which are sometimes silver as tinsel, sometimes a blue-gray overcast, sometimes the burgeoning spring-like needles of a newborn evergreen…
Some say the snow throws the quiet cover of death over everything, muting our usual teeming spirits, muffling our inner fires. I don’t believe this. In the snow, there is always an echo, always the tick of the top layer which sacrifices its untouched perfection to our heavy-trodding boot heels. We literally leave a stamp of ourselves everywhere in winter; we see our own breath grow into a cloud of life before our eyes; we become the world’s contrasted colors.
I have never longed for snow, Lily, like I do this winter. I want to see you play in it like the planet itself isn’t dying. I want to snuggle under covers and thaw back out with you, hunker down in our apartment’s artificial heat and emotional warmth and watch the paper scraps I tore up the other day just to hear you giggle at its sound fall all around you, just outside our window, just beyond your tiny finger’s wingspan grasp…
Please God, humanity, nature, who- and what-ever may be responsible for this year’s unnatural balm: Give my daughter the gift of at least one snow-globe reality, one freeze-frame real-life postcard moment of winter.
(And then, Lily, I hope that force cleans it back up again so we don’t slip and trip on my a** and your diaper, respectively.)
- “Falling snowflakes in England” by Sb2s3 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Falling_snowflakes_in_England.JPG#/media/File:Falling_snowflakes_in_England.JPG