SNOWDRIFT “The trees stood with their backs to us. Snow-depth was measured with dead straw. Footprints grew old out on the crust. Under a tarp, language withered.” - T. Tranströmer, ‘Face to Face’, trans. Patty Crane fissured by the cut of language, these prayers began to go cold. a personal fear. as the choir sings, wooden pews shudder. faces glow auburn by candlelight. eyes close, desperate to focus the mind in its churning. a wisp blows. the snow swallows each blade of grass. the ground is rich with meltwater. beyond lies a gleaming path. boundless. the cold of every crunch of snow. the pines whisper, shrouded in frost, another, then another. voices vanish in the horizon. breath turns to mist. footsteps blend in the pathway ahead. they are inscriptions on icy parchment. the glare is bright, the lands thin. the winds cut like a scythe. every second is a tremulous panting. then, restless flesh becomes still. above a shuddering jaw, language strengthens. boots begin to lift into clear brightness, slipping into every cavernous print. the flanks of pine and bark, the trail carved of extravagant tears, one movement after the other, footprints made into a newness again. BRIGHTON PIER we imagined a ritual: the glimpse of ash catching colder gales, tumbling into foaming waters, the merciless gray crash against sand, less itinerant than the tumbling of lily petals. a ceremony squeezed in the shade of a foreseen grief, a lacuna felt only in the passage of clouds, the strained contours of a monochrome sundown. it was not for the fungibility of dust, the analogue image of the whispering dead, nor the brittleness of a swirling, faithless rut. we folded our qualms toward death into each other’s palms, standing at a rickety pier, shaking, like reeds, by the wind.
Jonathan Chan is a writer and editor of poems and essays. He is the author of the poetry collection, going home (Landmark, 2022). His writing can be found at jonbcy.wordpress.com.
PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL