The Snow Queen

written by, and read by, © Peter Howard; first published in Envoi magazine, then in collection Low Probability of Racoons, 1994

Presumably, the frozen bird believes
The cobra to be beautiful. Her brain
Infers this from her fascinated eye:
It is an understandable mistake.

By catching them on frozen slides, we may
Beneath a microscope observe the shapes
Of snowflakes, all hexagonal, each one
Unique. So we were told. A lie, no doubt.

Though at the time the story cut no ice,
Its magic worked. One inch of snow. England
Freezes. Trains stop. Old women die of cold.
My bastard car won't start. The phones are jammed.

I know it. Snow is dangerous. Frost kills.
Yet, when clouds seem to threaten, my heart beats
Faster, and I can never turn my eyes
From soft, seductive, fatal, fields of white.