Snow Drifts [Poetry]

This is a prose poem by Lisa McCallum. 

The tall drifts of snow in which you built your own cave no longer exist. These private hollows of light inside of sparkling, frozen water crystals only appear on the insides of your eyelids when you dream of home in winter. Perhaps now the snow only falls half as deep on the ground, or maybe it falls twice as much. It’s hard to tell; you were half as tall as you are now.

The snow is a moveable surface. After the first night of flakes land on your porch, sidewalk, lawn, roof, and tongue, the snow looks like it would never move. But the minute you take a step, with your heavy boots of plastic and man-made fur, it slips beneath your toes. The snow forms its own animal. When you feel it move, you cannot stop it, but you try anyway. You put your arms out, as if for flight, and try to catch yourself. The weight of your body on the crystals means some will die. You feel sad for them.

There is a loud crack (like when ice cracks in a cup when Coke is poured on it and the bubbles travel up your nostrils only to pop on your nose hairs) and your foot enters the world of winter through its ambassador—snow. Its whiteness, its light, its secret clarity: you feel like a visitor in a land where human feet do not belong and you retrieve your foot. Balance. Then you start again, walking gingerly on the rough crust until—poof!—you fall through up to your knees and are reminded of its silent power to bury.

Make your way out of the knee-high holes toward the biggest drift of all. Scoop out a cave suitable for a six-year-old girl. Sit in it for a while and feel its coolness wrapped around you. Peek out at a black sky full of stars up in something called a galaxy. How long can you stay there?


Lisa McCallum is a writer, traveler, and teacher of English as a Second Language to adults. Her creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry have appeared in literary journals and travel magazines including Rock, Paper, Scissors; Peace Corps at 50: Asia; Pilot Guides Travel Stories; Wanderlust and Lipstick; Pology; Transitions Abroad; GoNomad; Whistling Shade; Tango Diva; inTravel Magazine; The Mid-America Poetry Review; Rive Gauche; Colere; Into the Teeth of the Wind; Mikrokosmos; North Country; Loonfeather; and Prairie Margins.

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