by Twila Newey
The wind blows snow across
her cheek, like stinging sand
a crystal burning. White ridged surfaces
rise in winter dune.
She approaches them asking how frost can be hot? Why liquid is dry and sharp as sand?
One answers managing the vast question with descriptions of observed phenomena.
Water (when the temperature is low enough) becomes particulate, temporarily takes on the characteristics of solidity. Sand (regardless of temperature) is already particulate in nature after eons of wear. They are simply varieties, though some slight degree modified of the same species. Wind, the parental element, acts upon them to reveal their shared ancestry. These analogies are utterly inexplicable if snow and sand had been independently created. What are varieties, after all, but groups of forms unequally related to each other?
One answers with a question understanding the nature of language is liquid and solid.
He says: You say that snow is cold. That it falls, white filigreed, catches in your hair, that it drips from the ends as water? What do you know of sand?
She says: That it is dry and hot. That it stings my cheeks when the wind blows. That it scatters, from the ends of my hair like nearly invisible jewels across a hard wood floor.
He, looking at her, loves her. How hard it will be for those who cherish ideas of snow or sand to enter The Kingdom of Heaven.
TWILA NEWEY received her MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa University. Her poetry has appeared in Rust + Moth, PoetryBreakfast, Summerset Review, Two Cities Review, and is forthcoming at Inflectionist Review, After the Pause, and The Cape Rock. She has also completed her first novel, a portion of which won publication in the Exponent II Midrash Contest. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and four children.
Author’s Note: These poems grew out of a paired reading of The Origin of the Species and The Christian Gospels. The italics are borrowed lines from the two texts.
Photo: “White Sands Patterns” by Robert Shea