Snow: White; White: Snow

Snow: White; White: Snow
Erin Robinson


Walk a city days after it’s buried
in blizzard when curbsides are a crust-
melt of salt rocks tinged blue
(think lips after Popsicles,
not mid-suffocation),
and the chocolate-shake
slush grown-ups, mostly, know
not to slurp is peppering
dark as coffee grounds
tossed or exhaust
solidified, and you realize
neither word is redundant.
Each acts on the other, manipulates
meaning, answers elementary
questions schools oversimplify:

What color is snow? Who can name
something white? Yes? The young
queen at the window—
the one cramped
in cushions, coming to term
with transitional forms;
hers being at present
elephantine from breasts
down. Her body ached
from embroidery. Hours confined
to a hoop the dainty width
of her hand mirror bowled
slim shoulders and cricked
her swan neck. Her fingers
numbed with tiny stitches’
She flipped off
her thimble. All the better
to spider nails ‘cross snares
threaded under design (black

hellebore islands in a green
satin sea). How often she’d turned over
her hoop, like a child overturning
a rock, to glimpse this working side
of illusion, the abstract
overlap where newly-sewn
strands trampled the old.
Knots bugged where threads
changed or ran out. Cocooned
until spring, her babe wouldn’t emerge
before the sampler’s entrapments
were safe under glass, their lesson
in beauty framed and pinned
to the wall. Call it, Image of Bloom,

Preserved. Pair it with wilting
hellebores in their vase. Snapped
stems with buds yet to break.
Life’s unstoppable decomposition
brought home, displayed
on dining tables and mantels
next to the urn. No one ogles
a kitten that’s mortally
ill, arranges it on a pillow
that highlights its mange,
wipes up dropped whiskers, displaced
baby teeth—keep things
tidy—then when it’s stiff
and curled in on itself, pitches

its wasted skin in the bin. Show
of hands—how many
draw lines at stilled
life? The queen poked
a finger from her Gordian
snare. Decay she couldn’t unpick.
Her child, innocence peeling
like petals, would steep in it, choke.

Bar windows and doors. Order
itinerant artists to mine the fairest
forms in creation then settle
outside the palace. The queen
would pull up portraits
in buckets. She’d dump
the dross of their travels (pewter-
lined beggars shaking withered
hands from their drifts, ennobled
huntsmen carving boars in churned
tracks) then set the gems
where her child could soak
in their luminescence, store
visions to grow on: a bleak
world burnished. Take care

the kid’s fooled. For artists,
like peddlers scrubbing
cracked combs of bone,
subsist by sainting
kicked-bucket goods. Exalt
hair sheared and spun, roots
yanked out, blossoms ground
down, skins shaved and stretched.
When made-up—quite tastefully
with shadows and shades, a kiss
of bright ocher so gentle
a child sleeping won’t stir—
you almost miss the Frankenstein
seams. Material connections;
minutes condensed. Babe Caught

Between Blinks caves in with careful
dissection, built up as it is of singular
insights reduced, reconstructed. Commingled
with each new aspiration, yesterday’s
respiration— hiccupping excitement
for an afternoon out—blends
into morning’s near comatose
sighs. Trust the artistic eye to meld
disparate snapshots? It’ll craft Truth
wholly hodgepodge. Snow-smudged

panes allowed glancing reflections—
her canvas layered inch-deep
in leads, colorless as a freshly-carved
marionette or sculpted Madonna
(sans child). When earthquake
expressions crack powder, yellowed
recollections writhe out: a girl heaped

in ashes and pelts, freed to gift favors
or not, as she chooses; an ancient
queen facing the pea she’d encased
where all might watch it shrivel.
Did their daughters ask
about bruises or the crown’s
weight? Generations of editors
wiped out their answers, hollowed
women milked dry by too many mouths.

Glass fogged at her huff. Strangers
won’t do as surrogates (unknown
characters ripe with conceptions
to poison young minds).
And tokens, though immortalized
artfully, can’t be swapped
for illumination. They admit
interpretations too cheaply,
many naïve, few affirming,
none at all flattering. The window
latch stuck; the queen tugged.

Show the class days-old snowbanks,
dazzling only when pierced,
their succulent cores
secured in grime
rinds. Tender ideals
plain as the thickening veins
in her hand. Common as crystals

in winter. With a groan,
the sash gave. Fumbled
needlepoint stabbed
into pointer. Three drops the deep
rouge of a girl’s first dribbled
courses (womankind’s crocodile
clock) budded below. Bat an eye,
they’d be buried. Swallowed
in the transient white. Like a wild heart
transplanted to an eggshell’s
safekeeping, the queen’s fragile

wish thumped. Oh, that she had new,
flailing flesh to christen with an unwritten
world; untrampled peace to echo
in unfurling ears; and memory’s
breadth to conjure comfort
from rivalries aged
to ignorance like a fine whine
then smothered for a storm’s
span by a sing-song
whisper of her child’s name.

Erin Robinson graduated from Lycoming College in Pennsylvania where she studied creative writing and history and how to combine the two. Her poetry has been published in Timeless Tales Magazine and NonBinary Review, and she has a story forthcoming in Pantheon Magazine.