POETRY: Snowfall, by Sarah Arthur

snowfall sarah arthur

When the snow falls
it falls like death
in slow layers
and keeps falling
till nothing we have known
is known.
We stand silent in the woods
awaiting the wide white twilight.

They say when you die of cold
you fall asleep first.
And so I wonder:
If you die of snow
like a princess do you dream
for a hundred years
while a blanket of white
mounds over your chest
and pines stand silent
in the trackless deep
and not even the mice
know you’re there?
If a tree falls in the snow
does it sleep for a hundred years?

And if you prick your finger
and a drop of red blood falls on the silent snow
do the woods shudder
with strange violence;
does the snow rot
with dark undergrowth;
do the dead leaves bleed?
Does the woodsman then awake,
shoulder his ax, slay his brother in the field?

O, wash me with hyssop
and I shall be clean;
Wash me with snow
and I shall be whiter than I was.

Lay me down in a drift
that I may slip off to sleep
and do not wake me till spring
when the woodsman comes
to lay his ax
at the root of the trees.


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