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“Melt” by Cislyn Smith

She knows the thousand and one secret names of snow,
whispers them up into the clouds,
calling the snow to her like a lover,
and waits for white touches sunk in drifts.
It is then that he sees her,
pale and fallen, in a bank on the side of the road.
Panicked, he thinks her dead, dying, rushes over
wading through three kinds of snow to reach her.
He kneels, taking hold of her wrist, hoping to find her alive
and is surprised when she opens her cold blue eyes.

She is never really sure why she left her chilly covers
to walk beside him, to listen and speak.
She usually avoids people
preferring the quiet company of crystals and slush.
He is much noisier.
He takes her for coffee, which she does not drink.
But she rests her chill hands against the cup
marveling at the colors of it, and he tells her
about his family in warmer climes
and how he came to be here rather than there.
She nods, pretending to understand.
She tells him about the wonders of flake and blizzard,
about flurries in forests and ice rains on plains.
“Snow is so much more than water,” she says, looking into his eyes earnestly.
“And water is so much more than snow,” he replies.
She smiles then, but will not meet his eyes again that night.

She knows so many names, but finds more she does not know.
The world seems filled with things not snowy.
These things puzzle her and she puzzles him
when they meet once a week and walk, through the snow, for coffee.
She enjoys watching the way his breath becomes visible,
names the snow silently when it sticks in his hair and on his gloves.
He sighs, staring out the window at the white
and wishes for spring and an end to all this snow.
She sighs, looking down at her coffee, going cold now,
and wishes for an endless winter to spend with him.

She does not know how to tell lies,
her tongue sticks cold to her mouth when she tries.
He does not know how to truly see her,
expectations rime his eyes with frost.
It cannot last. No winter really lasts.
For him, water is so much more than snow, but not for her.
She knows the thousand and one secret names for snow
and one of them is hers.

Cislyn Smith likes playing pretend, playing games, and playing with words. She calls Madison, WI her home. She has been known to crochet tentacles, write stories at odd hours, and study stone dead languages. She is occasionally dismayed by the lack of secret passages in her house. This is her first professional publication.


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  1. Allison Williams

    I have to read this several times, but right now, I am so stuck on the coffee cups and the secret names for snow and that brilliant and terrible revelation in the last line. Beautiful.

  1. Electric Velocipede 26 » Electric Velocipede

    [...] 5/13 → “Paradigm Shift” by Julie C. Day → “Melt” by Cislyn Smith [...]

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