|Jan/Feb 2019 Poetry Special Feature|
I Confide in the Snow Queen about My Divorce
"Now then! We will begin. When the story is done you shall know a great deal more than you do now." —the first lines of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen
What I almost say to her first is how I want everything
she has: swift white sleigh, warm coat that was a bear,
frozen lake in the center of her palace, but most of all,
her power. My birthday hovers on the edge of winter,
and I've always felt it around me like snow about to fall.
But I say none of this because if I don't offer her a more
important truth, she'll give me nothing, and my words
need to come quickly before the air around us warms.
But here there is no danger of that, and as I tell my story,
what I say turns to ice. She plucks what she wants from
my breath, stopping her sleigh at the sky's sharp edge.
I wonder if my tale is more real because it freezes
as it leaves my mouth, if I can better balance the joy
I have now with the girl I once was. The northern lights
surround us, and I see how they guard her with cold
bayonets, how the shadows cast on the ground spell
new words from my frozen ones: "door" they give me
and "eternity." Geese fly overhead in a slow vee,
a partial triangle that falls apart as I look at it, and
I imagine wings freezing mid-flight. My own hands
are cold and stiff, but my vision grows clearer
by the second. I tell her that I am knitting something
with these poems, but it isn't what anyone thinks.