There is, or so I am told, a debate raging
In fashionable rooms and the halls of government
Which concerns snowflakes—specifically, whether each one
Is of a unique and heretofore unknown shape and formation,
Or whether God sees fit to send down identical reproductions,
Like so many Wilton Diptychs being flogged at market.
I have, on the odd occasion, have seen the snow
As it piles up in billowing waves or lumpy bluffs
In the Alps and the Pyrenees, and, although I lack the learning
Sufficient to dispute the notion of their individuality,
I can say that, in collections of the thousands or millions,
They are indistinguishable from one another or, I suspect,
All of their like that has come before.
Like so many of her age, barely beyond the blush of childhood,
My poor sister saw her world in stark colorations;
Thunderclouds of black, endless sunbeams of white,
With no room in her orbit’s spectrum for anything in between
(Sadly, she left this life before she could learn to embrace
The beauty to be found in fine raiments of beige, gray, and taupe).
I have buried siblings, buried husbands and lovers,
Buried memories and mistakes, and in the endless cycle
Of embrace and bereavement I have learned that life
Is the process of accommodation and compromise,
And that it is only dark, austere death
That refuses to give itself unto the joys of negotiation.
It has lately come to pass that the wretched and lovelorn have,
Seeing no way out of their particular predicament,
Began writing my long-dead sister letters asking
For her advice if not her blessing. Can you imagine such a thing?
The postmaster of Thurn and Taxis (a very old and dear friend)
Has taken to bringing me some of these abjectly weepy epistles.
I’ve long since stopped reading them, of course;
They sing no new song, tread no new ground.
I simply feed them to a good strong fire,
As anyone who seeks the aid of a dead young girl
Has passed beyond the refuge of last resort.