Issue No. 19, Winter 2016

Thaw
Sandi Leibowitz

Through diamond panes I watched snow fall,
a steady flight of forgetful moths
past black boughs’ crooked arches,
empty as mourning mothers.

How long I sat and watched, I do not know,
whether it was hours or years,
limbs slack, mind revolving nowhere,
till I sensed (but dimly) how seldom I did note
the passage of the clocks’ hands
or any other thing
except the panes’ dull show.

I observed without panic
my still hands’ subtle shift to marble,
vaguely admiring the blue-grey veining the white,
somehow felt I should have minded,
should have fought,
but sat queenly straight,
attuned only to snow.

Till one moment or one day,
beyond the diamond panes,
out in the woods, a single crow
lifted wings to somewhere,
and I thought of—go.

Might I move a hand or speak?
To whom?
I pushed through the skim of stasis
strong as ice
to remembrance that I had indeed spent years
enthroned, entombed, in a solemn room,
queen of nothing.

Light glimmered where the crow had flown,
a red sun at horizon’s edge,
dawning or sinking.
I surveyed the waste beyond,
the waste within,
and dimly wondered,
How had I sown light
in the time when I once lived?

The question heated me.
I sweated, as if the sun
that overhung a dusky world
burned me with summer fires.

I could not remember when another person
had approached the room,
when last I’d heard a voice.
What had I done in olden times
when I maybe fashioned something
with these frozen hands,
walked out in the world beyond the room,
loved?

How had I sown light?

Suddenly light
was something I desired
more than anything.
I desired.

So I cast my soul out after the flight
of that long-gone crow,
cast my thoughts to where a wind
—no matter how ice-bitter it might blow—
could stir a leaf or a curl of bark.

I heard the crack of ice
or marble
or imprisoned heart
and rose.


Sandi Leibowitz is a school librarian and classical singer who writes speculative fiction and poetry. Her works appear in Mythic Delirium, Metaphorosis, Liminality, Polu Texni and other print and online magazines and anthologies. Her poems have been nominated for the Rhysling, Dwarf Star, Pushcart Prize, and Best of the Net awards, and have appeared in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year 5 and editors’ lists of recommended reading. She lives in a raven’s wood, next door to bogles—in the middle of New York City.

  • Ruth Asch

    I have been called an ice-queen but never sat so long alone with snow… interesting to live those chill, untimed moments through the poem with you.