Snow Queen

This selection is part of Nonbinary Review Issue #14: The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen. Get NonBinary Review #14 from the Zoetic Press website. 

What should stay buried in times like these?
My skin is creased in the new mirror.
I have been kissed to death by too many.
Great and good, small and ugly, wicked and bad.

Snow melts. Steady drip, drip, drip
all day through the heat and light.

Watch how I smooth the boy’s hair,
tender him with tales as if they might
undress his innocence.

My mother did the same.
Dug for something hidden
under the new skin of her young.
An empty chair sits by the window.

Through the little hole, I see him watching.
Snowflakes grow larger and larger.
The moon is lit white gauze.
Soon we will guess at shapes under snow:
the rounded mound of a ball, a garden tool left out.

My father went north looking for someone.
Strangers spoke in soft voices, invited him in.
He ate Kroppkakor on tablecloths
painted with red flowers.
More cold than he ever dreamed.

When he was a boy,
his mother named him
after the girl who died at birth before him.
He tried to reach the high notes just for her.

The thicker the snow, the sharper the squint.
Something struck my eye, I cannot see you.
Glass fell out of the sky of his mother’s eyes,
cloudy full moons. He led her around
on his arm. She sparkled
while her son-daughter
sang the way forward.
Linked together, glittering ice.


The past with its dank nest.
My father saved us gifts from the war.
His skin, with its snow and grit,
Sleeping bags full of must.
A small grain of glass in his heart,
A gun.

Tina Carlson has published poems in Dark Mountain Review, Black Lawrence Press, bosque(the magazine), and Blue Mesa Review, among others, and is the author of Ground, Wind, this Body, published March 2017 by UNM Press.