Snow

The Snow Baby

Sequoia Nagamatsu

On a lone mountain, the snow baby melts in its mother’s arms.

The snow baby has no gender, no face; its body is three snow balls.

The mother weeps. She is covered in sheets of ice, her poor, melted snow baby.

The mother makes a new snow baby; she pokes out eyes, draws a smile with her fingers.

The mother wishes every night for her snow baby to come to life, for her snow baby to speak.

The snow baby’s ice crystals become bone and blood and skin.

The snow baby opens its eyes and cries.

The snow baby has a penis, shriveled, retreating from winter.

The snow baby curls his fingers around his mother’s fingers.

Born of three snow balls, the snow baby is round and chubby, a pale buddha.

The mother tells stories of her late husband, the hunter, to the snow baby. She tells him of her son, the fisherman, who drowned.

The snow baby says mama.

The snow baby says the word for powdery snow.

The snow baby says the word for slushy snow.

The snow baby says the word for snow that is good for building.

The snow baby says the word for snow that makes a crunching sound.

The snow baby walks, follows his mother for firewood and squirrel.

The snow baby slides down hills on sheets of bark, over and over again.

The snow baby laughs when he falls.

The snow baby sticks his tongue out to catch the drops falling from melting icicles.

The snow baby is becoming increasingly thin like the melting icicles.

The snow baby’s skin is like jelly.

The snow baby’s bones creak when he runs.

The mother feeds the snow baby hot stew, which only makes the snow baby feel worse.

The snow baby cries in fractals. He cries because a hole has melted in his stomach.

The snow baby wants to play more.

The snow baby says mama.

The snow baby says hurt.

The snow baby is too thin to walk.

The snow baby is too thin to speak.

The snow baby’s body is the width of a young tree.

The snow baby’s body is the width of the mother’s arm.

The snow baby’s body is a twig, a reed, a blade of grass.

The mother rests the snow baby on her palms.

The snow baby is a strand of hair.

The snow baby is spider silk.

The snow baby is too small to be seen.

Winter has come on the lone mountain again––the snow baby is three snow balls.

The snow baby is quiet and still, resting beside its mother.

The snow baby’s heart is a snow flake and then two and then three…

The snow baby’s heart beats the ice around it into flesh.

The snow baby is …

 
 
 


Sequoia Nagamatsu’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in ZYZZYVA, West Branch Wired, Redivider, Puerto Del Sol, Lightspeed Magazine, The Bellevue Literary Review, and One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories, among others. Educated at Grinnell College, he holds an MFA in creative writing from Southern Illinois University. He co-edits Psychopomp Magazine and is a visiting assistant professor at The College of Idaho. More info can be found at sequoianagamatsu.net, and you can follow Sequoia on Twitter here.