Tag Archives: snow

Don’t talk to me of snow

Don’t talk to me of snow

Just give me her body laid in Longmire’s
and I’ll show you stillness, silence, chill.

I’ll show you every thread cut through
to heart, limb, brain.

I’ll show you in-and-out stopped up
to speech, song, sigh.

I’ll show you stone no touch or kiss
will every warm again.

Don’t talk to me of snow, of landscape whited out
and all ways lost. Give me mother.

This poem is by Gina Wilson, from her new pamphlet IT WAS AND IT WASN’T, published by Mariscat Press in Edinburgh. Gina’s adult poetry started to appear in 1996 and has been widely published in anthologies and a range of magazines. Happenstance Press published her first poetry pamphlet Scissors Paper Stone in 2010. She was first published as a writer for children and young adults – novels (Faber), poetry (Cape) and picture books (Walker Books). Gina has been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, Kurt Maschler Award and the Smarties Prize. She is a psychotherapist in Oxford.

Gina and I met in 2012 on the Writing School in Sheffield. She wrote a testimonial for my debut collection. I see our work as similar in some ways: her poems are complex, but they seem deceptively simple. Tough and compelling, no verbiage – no sentimentality Kate Clanchy wrote of her first pamphlet. Below is the poem that gives the new pamphlet its title:

Treasure

Squirrels spend a lot of time
digging up and reburying their store,
checking it’s still there, taking a bite.
My mother used to be the same
with dates and nuts at Christmas.
Never an unopened box of anything
by the Day itself. Funny how people
can’t quite bury a treasure. My brother
dug up our dead rabbit by torchlight
to see if it was safe. It was and it wasn’t.

 

 

Snow, snow, snow…

Under all that snow is a silver lining: last night I made it through snow to our small local writing group where we worked with a poem by Phil James The Eskimos’ Hundred Words for Snow.  It includes some wonderful words and definitions, such as priyakli – snow that looks like it’s falling upwards, and dinliltla – little balls of snow that cling to Husky fur.  There may be some genuine Inuit words here, but the whole poem is a take-off.  So we have tlalam – snow sold to American tourists, and Mac Tla – snow burgers.

This afternoon, while fresh snow swirled outside, I looked up the details.  In his 1911 Handbook of American Indian Languages, the anthropologist Franz Boas published on his research undertaken in the 1880s.  Later the story of the 100 words for snow was deemed to be just a myth.

But the Inuit language has at least 50 words for snow and sea ice, and the Yupik about 40.  We have matsaaruti – wet snow that can be used to ice a sleigh’s runners, and pukak – crystalline powder snow that looks like salt.  That would be the snow then just outside my living room window…