One Sunday in January

By Deborah Fajerman

One Sunday in January, it snowed.
It was 2021. Our first snow in a few years.

We all rushed outside and made snowmen
At the front door, down the path, on the bonnets of cars.
Then we rushed to the park and made more snowmen.

The snowmen burst out of our hands,
Starved of touching people for so long.
We were filled with the urge to shape snow into people.

So we all fell on the snow, grabbed it before it reached the ground,
rolled and gathered it, pushed it, packed it, kicked it,
Lifted torsos onto legs, hoisted heads, found stones for buttons, wound scarves around necks.
Our bare hands satisfied at last of the craving, the touch pulsing up our arms into our hearts,
Smoothed faces, poked eye holes,
Slid deep into satisfying crevices,
Creating the hard, soft, rough, awkward surfaces of a body.

Then we stood around our snowmen and hugged each other.
Fingers tingling, we circulated around the snowmen on the field
Joined by almost visible lines of emotion and communication,
Saw each other’s faces in the open air, smiled and shouted
Like we did before everything stopped.
Standing close to a snowman,
as if we could absorb the warmth of a person’s hands and their heart held under the snow’s surface.

Not only snowmen:
Snow women with plump breasts, and a shock of green grass pubic hair,
Snow dogs, snow ducks, snow babies, and snow blobs with charisma but no features (Voldemort?).

A snow giant towered above the family who made it
A mottled white golem
Formed of approximately 90% snow, 10% park
(turf, south London clay, and traces of dogshit).
It had a huge trunk, marble column legs
and luxuriantly rounded buttocks, powerful gluteal muscles,
Ready to pull each heavy stone leg forward a step
and then a step
And lumber slowly into a run.
We watched it gain speed across the park, rise up and skim the tops of the trees,
Launch into the clouds.
It vanished, and a spate of ice flakes fell back on our faces.
We licked them off our sleeves.
It tasted like popping candy
Without the pop.

Next morning in the park there were muddy lines
Where sleds and teatrays had scored through the thin snow.
The field was dotted with collapsing snowmen.
Early children jumped on the remains, puffs of ice chips bursting up from stamping feet,
Dripping ice down collars,
Melting into woolly gloves.

In the school playground, my daughter noticed footmarks of foxes, cats and birds
In the untouched snow.
On the street, the top layer melted and froze overnight
Forming a vitreous grey coat
Impossible for running, perfect for slipping and sliding.

It was January
The earth was making buds on branches
And pushing up tiny white flowers between blades of winter grass.
It was January, and we made snowmen.

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