Variation 13: ArtistAlice B. Fogel
Later, when mud sops upward, sodden with gone or transformed snow, and I am left to trace in black and white from memory more than ground and sky, this is what I will most miss: that other kind of tree that though unfallen curved in crosshatch toward me, that concatenous, suspended, horizontal tree: The one that needed snow as page, as mirror, door. Those trees in snow dimension dip deep into downward folds, bend up the other slope— strips beribboning snow in palettes of white and gray, almost blue, rippling as if in wind. Like paths of water snow’s trees flow and flex and in slow spin turn daily as one waving to the sweep of sun. From the edge of growth where slender trunks darkly ache toward sky, snow trees—a second, perpendicular, forest— lie down to rest. I will miss how, in hollows carved by the flux of snow-buried land, snow trees were the scuffed and open fingers of the limb cupped from vertical trunks outward and happy to be earthbound. They reach for me across distances icy and untrammeled. Too warm this afternoon. For how much longer now can snow be another place, neither earth nor air, that takes the shadow of a high tree and draws it down in its own clarity of negative light? Draw everything— the density of trees, sprawled weeds, waves of shadow and shade— everything else but the snow and still the snow is there. Snow here, and here, all in between things, irrefutable existence, and a vision like what the dying might see in the mind’s new eye, shaped by oncoming memory, or outlined by the failure of a heart. How many more days across the far shore of this shining field will real trees reach their snow trunks down, go impossible lengths, into the illusory depth fathomless in these few feet of snow? I want to plunge my hands down to grasp them, scrub their gathered skins hard into my palms, but I know what I will hold. Only cold.
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