Snow by Ruth Miller

Today three years ago, snow fell
In a tropical area, in a season
Of growth, for spring was nearly here.
Uninured to streams of scarlet blossom
Blanketed and cosseted, we stared
In a hush as soundless as our breath
As our cats’ feet, watching the intensity
Of sun on snow as though we could prevent
Slow seep and melting in the gritty glare.
But by midday we were poor again, having spent
Nearly all the silver in the world, though even
The following day we picked up with our eyes
The priceless coinage of a heap, a braid
Of white on a branch, a lump and hillock of ice
On all the verges and the sheltered places.
Now we spoke again with normal voices
Making our steps resound on the unmasked gravel,
All things angular and stark and level.
The pure reflection had vanished from our faces.

In another hemisphere the snow might seem
As known as linen, something white and clean,
But to us it was a miracle, a breath
Of godlings, and all magical. Yet even to those
Clenched in icelandic cold and northern snows
The thaw must seem a time of loss, a death.
Now the coming of summer or of winter
Brings no magic through each tiresome season.
January repeats what is concluded in December.
Of the meagre years of our own snowfall when
We were confronted with the last unreason
Of the last loss; but remember
How, like snow, you reflected and transfigured.


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