My first winter by Lake Michigan
covered me with white, cold, alien snow
till there was no light left
in my tropical eyes.
My fingers felt snow once,
long ago in Rohtang pass in the Himalayas.
Who knew one day I would be
pressed in its white pages
like a dead flower?
Snow’s a new word I fear.
The ‘s’ in ‘snow’
wraps around me like an icy tongue,
the ‘o’ like blue lips
with the power
to swallow everything.
I see a girl in a far away country
lost in a field yellow with mustard flowers.
Now, I watch a woman
staring out of the window
at a Land of Snow,
and Snow people who do not know her.
Numb and awkward,
my frozen fingers
grasp at snow, fresh fallen.
They try to make a snowball
like a child’s first try
at kneading chappati dough.
Fantastical and magical
the flurries flutter and whirl
My state of mind exactly.
Snow-flake, snow-fall, snow-drift, snow-bound.
How do I explain snow
to friends who have never seen it?
My father lives on that side of the world
where winter is a moth-eaten
wool sweater worn from November to January.
Rubbing his chest while watching TV,
he watches the blizzard rage on the news.
Stay away from the snow,
he warns me on the phone.
When the snowstorm grew fiercer
they called it a whiteout.
Like you could wipe your life clean
and start again.
We walked knee deep in snow
like excited children.
Like fishermen battling up a salmon-braided stream.
So much harder than
pushing through the sharp-bladed rice fields
when we lived in the sun.