“The minuscule infinities of snowflakes. They’re all different and nobody’s bothered because they all look the same”
After a day of silent, lyrical snowfall, a darkness closes in on the window, turning the street lights syrupy, the thick fresh snow quietly bright, as though lit from within. The old narrow street looks inviting and impossible, like a Christmas card received from someone long dead.
I open the window. The icy air is cold coffee to my skin. I put a warm jacket and gloves on. Clambering out the window, I drop and land with a muffled thud in the snow. Who does not feel like doing something unusual? For these are far from usual times.
A drunken Silent Night leaks out of a party some streets away. The air wafts cinnamon and mulled wine into my imagination. Where are you? I trudge through the virgin snow, my mind sparring with the sharp obscurities of what it is to be truly alive.
You have been dead now for twelve months.
I pretend I don’t know where I am. This is Prague, I say. Uppsala. Reykjavik. Bedford Falls.
In old black and white films, the snow was really cornflakes painted white. Snow so crunchy meant dialogue had to be dubbed in later. The muted scrunching sound this real snow makes is delicious.
Though churches glow and parties turn windows into random TV screens, outwardly the old town is also dead. No footprints in the snow. Remember that poem about the bridge? The wee girl whose footprints vanish? You loved it. Who knew that you too would vanish.
The FBI labelled It’s a Wonderful Life subversive.
Christmas was invented by Dickens’s ghosts. I turn a corner. And meet someone like you, my age, still alive.
She gives me a sad smile, hiccups, then staggers away.
A depressing man named Borowski killed you, five decades after he killed himself. Of Auschwitz he wrote, “Between two throw-ins in a soccer game, right behind my back, three thousand people had been put to death.”
Depression is more popular at Christmas than any other time.
It is snowing again. The minuscule infinities of snowflakes. They’re all different and nobody’s bothered because they all look the same.
It snows more heavily, snow on snow, more and more heavily until it’s as if singing invisibly with a pure choking lyricism, a white weeping.
There is nothing truer than this; Christmases to come will have their new ghosts.