Winter Sophia Nugent Siegal

Edge: Seasons of Childhood (Peak District, Derbyshire)


if the world was to end in the middle of a snowy day
I am not sure if anyone would notice
I mean they would in the middle of real hail or snow
pounding and thudding
but would they really notice if the blank whiteness of the sky faded into true
little by little a shade at a time?

sometimes I think this is happening
I watch the sky go so blank that it might blind you to look at it
beyond the whiteness of the poles or of avalanches
the nothingness of illusions and the strange way that mist cannot be felt when you try
to stroke it

I could sit and watch the world ending like this for a very long time
in fact
there would be no bangs or whimpers just the silence of double glazing
punctuated by the childhood memory of conkers hitting each other
one minute a hard brittle thing
the next an empty string
the kind of thing worn around necks
a hard cravat of old shoelace

I sit and look out of this loft window
nose pressed against the glass
so flat I look like a Persian cat
from outside
knowing that I could unlatch the window and put my feet out onto the roof
and sunbake in the cold
icing myself on the window frame and feeling those winds
remembering glaciers

this is a world of ledges and edges and named things
jutting out against the ice
angry and inward
afraid of the icicle swords in their hearts
this is a place of eternal silent battle
a clenching place that can’t let go of its caul
that searches always to dig into its womb away from the cold
with the comfortable knowledge that the cold lies outside guarding
like a kind of fearsome cat
keeping others away

it is not good to try and be not alone in this place
something about the cold encourages the turning of keys
and when any human being is trapped with another behind a locked door
it quickly becomes a jail

“this is a place of exiles”
I say to my imaginary friend that I never believed in
“a place to be away from civilization by burying yourself in it
a good excuse to be a burrowing thing
this place was chiselled from rock
for the ascetics
like islands out in the channel
it is suited to penance and contemplation
the quiet kind that does not draw blood
but it is not a place for homes or hearths or household gods
the religion of comfort or a belief in the soul”

outside the trees claw at the sky as if desperate to pull the atmosphere off the stars
and into their naked fingers
to blanket themselves in the blankness and be gone
and the small twitchy birds that surprise us by living sing harsh songs that we cannot hear
for the glass
and the roses somewhere in the back garden where I cannot see them
grow their thorny way into the light and no one gets too close
and the black rubbish bags bulge their contents onto the driveway
as if they were the pregnancies of the old leaves
and still I look, the sky challenging my hands for whiteness kneading at the transparency
with the distance and suffocation of a very close thing

winter has made me patient
especially in the meaning of sickness
I sit and wait for the occasional reminder of death that is the swooping fighter planes
graceful as raptors
the sound of their wings loud enough to make it through
the glass, touching the tips of their metaphorical feathers to our ice-made valley
and reminding us that Prometheus did steal fire

by Sophia Nugent-Siegal ©